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Sergio being Sergio? Not this time



Before Sergio Garcia’s racially insensitive remarks at the European Tour awards dinner Tuesday night, the golfer had already made a series of imprudent decisions.

He made comments about Tiger Woods pulling a club during his backswing, causing a commotion, which led to an errant shot at The Players Championship. The notoriously malcontent golfer then suggested that Woods had done it on purpose and indicated that he didn’t particularly care for the world’s No. 1-ranked player.

Never one to let sleeping dogs lie or bite his own wagging tongue, Garcia, in a press conference earlier this week, suggested that Woods is a liar, generally impugned his character, and reiterated that the golfer is unlikely to be receiving a Christmas card from the Garcia family.

What began as a difference of opinion or perspective between two of the game’s best has turned into a mess worse than Garcia’s play at the 17th hole at Sawgrass nearly two weeks ago.

If there was an award at Tuesday night’s gala for the “Most Racist Remark since Fuzzy Zoeller at the 1997 Masters” or “Lifetime Achievement in Putting One’s Foot in One’s Mouth,” the Spaniard would likely have been a finalist.

Before we deal with Sergio’s Stupid Comments, Part XXIV, it’s worth noting that I enjoy when the world’s top professional golfers, who are generally reserved when they’re on the record, speak their minds. But his actions over the last two weeks display a real lack of both insight and foresight, which, unfortunately, speaks volumes about his inability to capitalize on the tremendous potential he first showed nearly 15 years ago.

On to the remarks at the center of the present controversy. In response to a question about whether he’ll be interacting with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open next month, Sergio said,

“We’ll have him ’round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

In introducing the quote, I nearly said, “On to the meat of our discussion,” but that seemed insensitive in light of the comment at hand. I don’t consider myself a great intellect or an exemplary human being; however, I refrained from the previous statement given my judgement that it could potentially offend or be considered in poor taste, which is exactly what Sergio didn’t do.

Think before you speak, about your audience, the context of your comments and the implications of what you’re saying. It’s not a radical proposition, nor is it a difficult habit to practice; however, it’s a bit of advice that’s essential in any remotely civil society.

Garcia knew the words shouldn’t have left his lips just as they were reaching the ears of the eager press corps, but just like when he spit in the cup at Doral in 2007, he just couldn’t help himself. Certainly, he’s apologized and said the right words since. Unfortunately, apologies rarely redeem a public figure in the court of public opinion.

As a result, he is in hot water — even with his current equipment/clothing sponsor, TaylorMade-adidas golf, who released this statement about Garcia:

Sergio Garcia’s recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s values and corporate culture. We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter.

I can write off Sergio’s feud with Tiger over the last few weeks as Sergio being Sergio. But his comment in Europe crossed the line. It’s extremely unfortunate for Sergio as well, who prior to Saturday at The Players appeared to be moving forward — with his putting, with his maturity and toward a major championship.

But he’s taken a huge step backward, and has likely done irreparable damage to his image. And if he thought the hecklers were tough to deal with at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York City, he’s got something coming for him at Merion next month.

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  1. Butchercass

    Jun 11, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Firstly, American fans really need to have a good look at themselves. Shouts of “egg salad, get in the hole, mashed potato, fried chicken.. (oh wait, is that last one rascist?) *gulp..Let the golf speak volumes and mute the small percentage of “fans” that persist in shouting when a player hits a shot. It’s infururaiting.

    Sergio has had some banter..end of conversation.Leave the lad alone. He’s is breath of fresh air if you ask me to all these young robots coming through the ranks. It’s only rascist as it was aimed at a black person. Anyone seen Django at the cinema? Great film.. not rascist.

  2. Mick J

    May 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I am way more upset at the media reaction to this than to Sergio’s actual comments

  3. Jack

    May 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Sergio is a person of the world and is not subject to the idiotic lowest common denominator thinking that has occurred in the USA. His comments were just a joke, nothing more. The behavior of the person asking the question is actually more relevant in terms of racist remarks.

  4. Michael

    May 29, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Tiger said that the Marshall informed him that Sergio had already hit. Then he proceeded to grab his club. The Marshall in an interview said that they rarely speak to the players and no one told Tiger that Sergio had hit. Who is the Liar?

  5. sss2013

    May 25, 2013 at 12:46 am

    What really gets me in all the media coverage is that most articles come across as Tiger being an active participant in all mess-up when he’s hardly said a word. To Tiger, Sergio is nothing but an annoyance not worthy of much consideration or waste of voice…note his “no” response. The media is trying to make Tiger look as “bad” in a tit-for-tat cat fight when he couldn’t care less. HOWEVER, when the uninformed reads articles, it seems as if Tiger going back-and-forth. What a joke…

    • Servost

      May 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

      It helps when you completely own the other guy. Sergio needs to just stop talking about Tiger. And win a few majors, he should do that too.

  6. Billymack572

    May 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Why is this getting more coverage than Tiger’s incorrect drop at the Players, or is it too near to home and damaging to TV ratings to suggest that the prodigal son might be playing at the edge of the rules (have we forgotten the drop at the Masters already?)……

  7. Glen

    May 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Regarding Fuzzy’s statement all those years ago. If you ever get into Augusta you will find that the House Dinner is Fried Chicken with Collard Greens. The press neglected to do any research and blew a non-story into a racial one. It was bad journalism at best and a pre-cursor to today’s journalistic ineptness.

  8. Brad

    May 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Stupid comment from Sergio. Less stupid (but still boy-like) smirking in various press conferences recently from a guy (Tiger) with some real moral issues. Both have incredible game – Tiger is currently in a class by himself. When will a Hogan, Nelson, Nicklaus etc. emerge and bury these immature, stupid boys? Probably never — we have a system now that plants and grows little Scott Hochs and they seem to choke everything else out at an early stage in this sport. (Right now, their patron saint — Finchem — is busy making dangerous noise about the new anchored putting real.)

  9. Keith

    May 24, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Was Sergio’s latest comment out of line? Sure.

    However, it is the media that should be apologizing. I guarantee that if no one had specifically asked Garcia about the Players Incident then he wouldn’t have brought it up. The media thrives on controversy. They know all of the right buttons to push to elicit their desired responses.

  10. Servost

    May 24, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I think Sergio will be playing a lot more golf in Europe for a while. Ryder Cup matches between these two should be interesting.

  11. golftw

    May 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Maybe he just makes good fried chicken; people need to stop pulling race into every single comment. Furthermore, you come off as quite conceded and seem to think you are above Sergio as a person.

  12. scoot

    May 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    cheese with that wHine

  13. scoot

    May 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Tiger has owned the little boy for as long as he’s been on the scene. Sergio can’t handle not being anywhere close to the caliber of golf that he is up against. Now Tiger owns him in golf and war of words. Now Sergio is in the alligators. I bet he doesn’t break 80 at the US Open if he even shows up.He will probably have an excuse as to why he can’t make it to the event. He deserves this scrutiny even before this last bit of smartelic childlike behavior. How bout some cherse with that wHine El Nino

  14. Matt

    May 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Ben – Oh, I see what you did there!.. You “refrained” from saying what you thought, by saying what you thought. Is the air thin up there?

  15. yo!

    May 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I have a feeling Sergio will keep his mouth shut (about non-golf matters) from now on … losing your meal ticket from sponsorship is quite a motivator.

  16. Seth

    May 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Tiger and Sergio are just as imperfect as anyone else on the planet. We all have our shortcomings, some more than others yes, but look in the mirror and start there for craps sake. Ridiculous we have to be inundated with this stupidness, yet here I am sucked in and commenting on it.

  17. bobloft

    May 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Am I the only one who doesn’t care about this? Everyone is whining as much as Sergio.

  18. gus

    May 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I think the ultimate insult to Tiger was stereotyping him with people which he himself does not associate with.

    • B

      May 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      True, he’s not even 100% black. His mother is Thai.

  19. LK

    May 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Fried chicken does have a negative connotation bc it is unhealthy and African Americans are stereotyped as being overweight and unhealthy. Would you laugh if Sergio invited you and said he’d be serving bbq poodle? I’m tired of people saying, “But oh, it was just a joke.” How much bullying is just a joke? How many racist comments are just a joke? How many sexist things, and even sexual assault, have been justified as just a joke or “just playing around?” Hey, I know I just slapped your teen daughter on the rear but I’m just playing around. Don’t take it so seriously. See the problem here?

  20. doc19

    May 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Also, for those saying it may be a European not being aware thing, his statement after the fact suggests otherwise. He basically admitted as soon as he said it he realized it was a dumb thing to say… and apparently lost sleep over it.

  21. doc19

    May 23, 2013 at 11:11 am

    How did Tiger add fuel to the fire? Personally I think this whole thing was media driven to begin with, watching the Players and the coverage afterwards I felt like I was watching teenagers play “he said she said” during lunch period. It has happened in other sports, I guess it’s the new norm for golf.

    Tiger’s actual response to the apology was this: “I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made, The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.” Doesn’t sound like adding fuel to the fire to me.

    Is Sergio a racist? I don’t think so. Was the comment inappropriate and ill timed? Of course it was. We can debate cultural sensitivity and being PC until we are blue in the face, but we all can agree that a public figure making that statement is just plain stupid and points to poor decision making.

    It is unfortunate really, this guy has all the talent in the world, he should have been winning majors for years. But his problem has never been his swing, it’s the 1 square foot of real-estate between his ears that has held him back.

  22. bdgregor

    May 23, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I agree that Sergio screwed up, and anything even borderline racially insensitive should be reprimanded. However, I haven’t heard anyone point out something I would think is pretty obvious. Sergio has been around a long time, but do remember, he is European. People in Europe are not as aware of what is culturally insensitive in America. You do need to consider that Sergio may have used “fried chicken” as some sort of colloquialism for American food, or what us “yanks” like to eat. I would be willing to be that was more of the angle of his comment than anything sinister.

    • LK

      May 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Good point. Fried chicken is an awesome American creation as far as I know. But if so, Sergio would not have had a sick feeling after the dinner like he knew he was in for some serious trouble. The fact that he had a sick feeling means he knew the significance of his error and the racial connotations.

      • CJ

        May 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        Could’nt it be possible that someone told him immediately after dinner that what he said was and is considered racially insensitive in the USA?

  23. Mike

    May 23, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Actually Sergio didn’t start this fire by himself….the door was opened by the reporter ” jokingly” asking the question. I personally find it more offensive when a married man with two kids and a wife can’t keep his promise he made to his wife on their wedding day….just saying…..

  24. S5PJM

    May 23, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I think he was just trying to be funny and it came out wrong. I dont believe he is a raciest. He is not an AMERICAN and probably doesn’t even know why a fired chicken reference would be considered raciest by some people anyway. This is a NON ISSUE. Get on with it and play golf.

    • JKratz

      May 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

      I agree, he obviously knew a comment like that had to do with African Americans, but probably didn’t know the complete context. That being said, the media will continue to run the story into the ground like always as their main job is “shock and awe.” I’m waiting for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to now get involved until Sergio makes a large monetary contribution to one of them.

  25. yoboy24

    May 23, 2013 at 12:57 am

    If Sergio had said “fried rice” instead of chicken would this be a big deal? NOPE! And I’m a HUGE TW fan, and don’t particularly like Sergio, but this is kind of ridiculous. If he was a racist we would have known that by now. Get over it and let’s get back to TW killing him every time they tee up. kthanks.

  26. justplay

    May 23, 2013 at 12:04 am

    dude get over it !!!

  27. justplay

    May 23, 2013 at 12:02 am

    making too much out of if always with the racist card !! stop it already!!

  28. who cares

    May 22, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    no one cares about the stupid comments being made, just play golf and bring your A game to the us open next month for the fans

  29. Blanco

    May 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    What a dunce this man is. I heard briefly on TGC that he’s claiming ignorance to the 97 Fuzzy comment altogether. Even if he had zero knowledge of that incident (which I don’t buy for one second), he’s essentially validating that the comment was not some “reference” (to Zoeller) but racial rhetoric of his own.

    Finchem and the Euro Tour need to make it well known that such behavior won’t be tolerated in Golf and take disciplinary action. The game took a big step backwards today at the worst possible time. I hope the PGA/EuroTour and especially TMAG set the example in the hopes of “growing the game.” We need to do everything possible to make golf appealing to a new generation of young, diverse athletes from all walks of life.

  30. Zak

    May 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm


    If you think that it’s going to blow over before Merion, you’re underestimating the weight of the comment.

    Vitriolic? I don’t see it. Sergio set this fire all by himself.

  31. Ronald Montesano

    May 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I think that you are adding fuel to the fire by suggesting that hecklers will be bad at Merion. In the first place, there will be fewer fans at Merion than Bethpage. In the second, the majority of fans that heckled Sergio were self-professed muni guys and nothing was done to corral them. The same will not take place at Merion, where the atmosphere will be more like Augusta than Bethpage. In fact, when I read your final sentence, I feel as though you were striving for a vitriolic ending. Show me that I am incorrect, please. That’s not what I expect from your writing.

  32. Cyd

    May 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    So Sergio dissed eldrick. Cry me a freaking river. The only people that the slimeball eldrick is a hero to is the sycophant momma’s boy and the green light girl. Not any of them are persons I would want to be around in any type of social situation.

    • Forsbrand

      May 26, 2013 at 7:17 am

      That is a funny comment man, love it. Green light girl ha ha ha, I’m gonna use that in my next conversation!

  33. Minh

    May 22, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I completely disagree with the level of scrutiny Sergio has received. Everyone is so quick to pull the “race” card. Is it possible for anyone to take a joke? Is laughing at one’s ethnic background still possible?

    My biggest issue with these situations is people choose which stereotypes to accept and which to call “racially insensitive remarks”. Infer a Black man like fried chicken and you’re labeled a racist. Infer a Black man has a large penis and you won’t hear a peep.

    I’m of Vietnamese decent and I laugh off all Asian-related jokes. Yes, we are good at math, sure some of us might have small penises, sure some of us can’t drive, yes we all like fish and rice, and I personally don’t know of any Asian that eats cats or dogs.

    This should be a none issue.

    • world42

      May 23, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Minh, Sergio didn’t say anything about himself, he said it about another man of a different race and ethnic background. Now, if he would have that he would cook him a Spanish dish, then the humor would have been easily seen, but he used a stereotypical saying that is used as a racial slur here in America.

      • B

        May 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        world42, I guess what Minh trying to say is that, it’s not racially offensive until you offend Black people. Other races don’t have luxury like this and they often make a big deal of it.

    • Forsbrand

      May 26, 2013 at 7:11 am

      Absolutely, I hear lots of us fans call padraigHarrington “Paddy” or “Irish” are they being racist too? Because both words can be perceived as rasist comments. I would suggest Sergio was having a joke that has been misinterpretated.

    • JT

      May 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Minh, I agree with almost everything you said but you can’t be serious about the cat and dogs thing :).

  34. Mike Hunt

    May 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I can only imagine the hecklers at Merion in June. Sergio is going to get pounded by the not so morally correct US crowd

    • Forsbrand

      May 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Since Golfwrx has covered a European event could we ask Golfwrx to incorporate more European Tour tournaments issues and spotlights please it would be gratefully appreciated thanks

    • free

      May 26, 2013 at 6:01 am

      “not so morally correct us crowd”?

      dude, at least Sergio confined his disparaging remarks to just tiger….

      listen, as a member of the “not so morally correct us crowd” I choose not to take offense at your comment but u may want to contact Sergio and take a seminar on moral relativism….

      see my comment below about the splinter and the log….

    • Arthur J

      May 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Mike Hunt? Surely that’s a wind-up.

      • Carey

        Jun 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Ah, yes. A Porky’s reference. My day is complete.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s LIV Golf Jeddah betting preview: Course specialist ready to steal the show in Saudi



LIV Golf makes its third stop at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City this week to play LIV Golf Jeddah. 

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a par-72 that measures 7,010 yards. There is plenty of water on the course and it features large greens and numerous sand traps. The fairways are Zoysia grass and the greens are Paspalum. The course has hosted several prestigious events in the past including the Saudi International, LIV Golf Jeddah, the Aramco Team Series and the Aramco Saudi Ladies International. The course is undoubtedly one of the best tracks that the Middle East has to offer. 

LIV Jeddah will be absolutely loaded with storylines this week. Perhaps the most exciting of them all is the return of Anthony Kim to professional golf.

Last seen at Quail Hollow in the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, the golf world often wondered aloud what ever happened to the charismatic party boy who once played a major role in the United States 2008 Ryder Cup win at Valhalla, thrashing Ryder Cup legend Sergio Garcia 5&4 in a singles match.

Six months later, “AK” made eleven birdies in a single round at Augusta National, shooting a -7 (65). The following year, Kim would finish 3rd at The Masters.

Kim was a “can’t miss” star who was poised to be near the top of the world rankings for the next decade. Until he wasn’t.

Starting in around 2010, injuries started to derail AK, causing him to have surgery on his Achilles tendon in June of 2012.

Reportedly, the then 26-year-old cashed in on an insurance policy that paid him somewhere between $10 and $20 million, which would force him into retirement.

Twelve years later, Kim will be playing at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club beginning on Friday this week.

There is still a great deal of mystery regarding what’s occurred in the past twelve years, but reports indicate that Kim is receiving somewhere between $5 and $10 million to sign with LIV Golf.

Details aside, Kim’s return to golf should be absolutely captivating.

Past Winners at LIV Jeddah

  • 2023: Brooks Koepka (-14)
  • 2022: Brooks Koepka (-12)

Past Winners at the Saudi International

    • 2023: Abraham Ancer (-19)
    • 2022:Harold Varner III (-13)
    • 2021: Dustin Johnson (-15)
    • 2020: Graeme McDowell (-12)
    • 2019: Dustin Johnson (-19)

The top of the odds board will be tough to beat this week. Jon Rahm has played well to start the year but still hasn’t gotten in the winner’s circle. He ought to be hungry to get it done this week. Brooks Koepka has won the event two straight years and is a force to be reckoned with. Dustin Johnson has a staggering record at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. In six trips to the course, he’s finished in the top-8 each time including two wins and a runner-up. 

Stats From LIV Las Vegas

2024 LIV Jeddah Picks

Sergio Garcia (+2500 FanDuel)

Sergio Garcia began his 2024 LIV Golf season with a bang, losing in a four-hole playoff to the Chilean superstar Joaquin Niemann at LIV Golf Mayakoba. Despite the runner-up finish, it was an encouraging start to the season for the former Masters Champion.

Garcia’s strong week didn’t directly follow him to LIV Las Vegas, where he finished 26th, but the unfamiliar course didn’t necessarily fit his skill set. Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a relatively short course that can get extremely windy. Garcia still has the iron game to compete with the elite players in this field, and is a great wind player and shot maker. 

In Sergio’s seven trips to the course, he’s finished in the top-6 three times, and finished 3rd in both of LIV’s trips to Jeddah. 

The 44-year-old can still stripe it and my gut tells me he will be a part of the story late on Sunday. 

Paul Casey (+3500 DraftKings)

I’ve been extremely high on Casey to kick off 2024 and thus far things have gone extremely well for the Englishman. In his two starts this season, Casey has finished in a tie for 11th and a tie for 5th, and was the first-round leader at LIV Las Vegas. 

Casey has had success at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club and has finished 5th in two of his past three trips to the golf course. The 46-year-old is a superb ball striker and wind player when he’s healthy, and all signs point to him finally being back to full strength. 

In Vegas, Casey led the field in birdies made (tied with a few at the top), and finished in the top ten in both fairways hit and greens in regulation. 

Veterans have done well on LIV to date, and Casey may be next in line of players on the back nine of their careers who show they still have the game to compete with some of the world’s best. 

Matt Wolff (+4100 FanDuel)

The mercurial Matt Wolff has seemingly found a comfortable home with the RangeGoats and has been playing his best golf to date on LIV in his two starts this season. Wolff finished 4th at LIV Las Vegas and followed that up with a tie for 7th place finish at the Asian Tour’s International Series Oman. 

In his past four trips to the course, the 23-year-old (Wow! He’s still only 23?) has finished in the top-10 three times. 

The Oklahoma State product was once tabbed as a future superstar, and it’s still far too early to give up on such a talented player. A win is coming soon. 

Bubba Watson (+8000 FanDuel)

It’s been a long road back for Bubba Watson since he had surgery to repair his meniscus a few years ago, but the two-time Masters champion is beginning to show some signs that he may once again be healthy enough to complete.

In his two starts this season, Bubba has finished T21 (Mayakoba) and T15 (Vegas). Watson has always been a player who plays “his” tracks well, with multiple wins at Augusta, Riviera and TPC River Highlands. With a few more cracks at it, Royal Greens Golf & Country Club could certainly be one of those courses. He’s only played the course three times, but has a 2nd place finish in 2022 when he lost to Harold Varner III in a playoff.

In Vegas, Watson was 7th in the field in Greens in Regulation. When he’s on his game, there are few players more fun to watch than Bubba. 


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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches betting preview: Grinders fancied to survive tough PGA National test



After finishing the West Coast swing and making a pit stop in Mexico, the PGA TOUR heads to PGA National to begin its Florida swing and play the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. The event was previously called the “Honda Classic”.

The tournament will be a significant challenge for golfers, as PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR.

PGA National is a 7,054-yard par 71 and features Bermudagrass greens.  Originally a Tom Fazio design, it was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. The course features the infamous “Bear Trap” on holes 15-17, three of the toughest holes on TOUR. Wind tends to play a factor, which makes the scoring even more challenging.

The field is solid and much stronger than we saw last year with the event being directly after two signature events. Some notable players in the field include Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Min Woo Lee, Russell Henley and Gary Woodland. 

Past Winners at PGA National

  • 2023: Chris Kirk (-14)
  • 2022: Sepp Straka (-10)
  • 2021: Matt Jones (-12)
  • 2020: Sungjae Im (-6)
  • 2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
  • 2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
  • 2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)
  • 2016: Adam Scott (-9)
  • 2015: Padraig Harrington (-6)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

5 Key Stats for PGA National

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for PGA National to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach has been far and away the biggest indicator of the winner at PGA National. Hitting the target is especially important with all of the water at the course.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Tom Hoge (+1.08) 
  2. Mathieu Pavon (+1.07)
  3. Chesson Hadley (+.68)
  4. Michael Kim (+.67) 
  5. Adam Svensson (+.66)

2. Strokes Gained: Putting Bermuda (Florida)

As we enter the Florida swing, players will have to adjust to the Florida Bermudagrass greens, which favors some golfers who are more accustomed to playing the surface over others.

Strokes Gained: Putting Bermuda (Florida) over past 24 Rounds:

  1. Beau Hossler (+1.05)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+.87)
  3. Sungjae Im (+.81)
  4. Ben Martin (+.75)
  5. Denny McCarthy (+.71)

3. Strokes Gained Total: Florida

This stat will bring in players who’ve played their best golf in the state of Florida.

Strokes Gained Total: Florida Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Rory McIlroy (+1.72)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+1.62)
  3. Shane Lowry (+1.44)
  4. Sungjae Im (+1.32) 
  5. Chris Kirk (+1.30)

4. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Historically, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking has been much more indicative of success at PGA National than Strokes Gained: Short Game. The difficult track rewards a solid tee-to-green game, which is the key to avoiding trouble.

The winning score will likely stay close to single digits, so an extremely hot putter isn’t all that predictive. 

SG: BS Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Corey Conners (+21.1)
  2. Jhonnatan Vegas (+19.5)
  3. Adam Svensson (+19.3)
  4. Mathieu Pavon (+18.6) 
  5. Tom Hoge (+18.3) 

5. Strokes Gained: Difficult or Very Difficult Courses

PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR. Including this stat will highlight some players who thrive when scoring is difficult.

Strokes Gained: Difficult Courses Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Rory McIlroy (+2.62)
  2. Matt Fitzpatrick (+1.59) 
  3. Tom Kim (+1.59) 
  4. Jake Knapp (+1.55)
  5. Shane Lowry (+1.34)

Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: Putting Florida Bermuda (15.3%), SG: Florida 15.3%), SG: Ball Striking (27%) and SG: Difficult Scoring(15.3%).

  1. Chris Kirk
  2. Daniel Berger
  3. Jhonnatan Vegas
  4. Corey Conners
  5. Adam Svensson
  6. Rory McIlroy
  7. Tom Hoge
  8. Shane Lowry
  9. Sepp Straka
  10. Kevin Streelman

2024 Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches Picks

(All odds are the best available at the time of writing)

Cameron Young +2200 (BetMGM)

Cameron Young has yet to break out with a PGA Tour win, but PGA National is a good course for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year to showcase his elite driving ability. In his past 24 rounds, Young ranks 1st in Total Driving.

PGA National isn’t the longest course, but with water lurking everywhere, it helps to hit approach shots with higher lofted clubs. Bombers such as Rory McIlroy, Keith Mitchell, and Brooks Koepka have thrived at the course in the recent years, and Young could look to replicate their play style here.

Young has had a strong start to his 2024 season, finishing in a tie for 8th at TPC Scottsdale and a tie for 16th at Riviera. In those two starts, he gained significant strokes on the field both off the tee and on approach. He also finished 16th in his debut at the Honda Classic in 2022. With two additional top-13 finishes at Bay Hill, the 26-year-old has shown he likes playing in Florida.

With the fields in 2024 weaker than in recent seasons, Young is one of the best players teeing it up this week and has the talent to come out on top.

Shane Lowry +3500 (DraftKings)

Shane Lowry has been very quiet this season, but he’ll now kick off the Florida swing, which is the part of the PGA Tour schedule that he’s had most success at over the course of his PGA Tour career.

In his past eight starts in the state of Florida, the Irishman has finished in the top-13 five times, including a runner-up at PGA National in 2022 and a tie for 5th here last year. The former Open champion is a resident of Jupiter, Florida and is extremely comfortable playing on these Bermudagrass greens.

Lowry is typically amongst the favorites at PGA National, but this year is being offered at a bit of a discount due to his underwhelming start to the season. If the course plays difficult, which it typically does, there are few players I’d rather have than Shane Lowry on my betting card.

Byeong Hun An +4000 (DraftKings)

I’ve bet Byeong Hun An a few times this year and it almost paid off when the South Korean lost in agonizing fashion in a playoff to Grayson Murray at the Sony Open. Given his current form and excellent course fit, I feel compelled to give the affable An one more shot at PGA National this week.

An is a great driver of the ball and ranks 17th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 4th in Carry Distance. With danger lurking on almost every hole, longer hitters will have the advantage coming in with shorter irons. While not typically the most reliable putter, Benny ranks 18th in the field in his past eight rounds on Bermudagrass.

In addition to his strong start to the season, An has also had plenty of success at PGA National. He finished in a tie for 4th at the course in 2020 and tied for 5th in 2018. If he can avoid the water, we may finally get to celebrate a Benny An victory this week.

Corey Conners +5000 (FanDuel)

On a difficult course that produces relatively high scores such as PGA National, players who are accurate both off the tee and on approach will have the advantage. In his past 24 rounds, the Canadian ranks 4th in Total Driving and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Off the tee.

Conners is another player who has thrived in Florida. In his past seven starts in the state, he’s finished in the top 21 five times. The course history at PGA National hasn’t been great, but I am willing to overlook that in favor of his overall form in the state and his apparent course fit.

A few weeks ago, at Riviera, Conners’ signature iron play came back to life as he gained 5.04 strokes on the field on approach. If he can make some putts on Bermudagrass, which has been his favorite surface to date, there’s no reason why he can’t contend at PGA National this week.

Alex Noren +5000 (FanDuel)

Despite never having won on the PGA Tour, Alex Noren has racked up 11 total wins professionally, and has come close many times in the United States. The Swede has played on a winning European Ryder Cup team (2018) and has won big events in Europe such as the BMW PGA Championship and British Masters.

Noren is a tremendous wind player who has enjoyed plenty of success at PGA National throughout his career. He finished in a tie for 5th at this event in 2022 and finished 3rd back in 2018. Noren ranks 15th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on Florida Bermudagrass and 20th in three putt avoidance on the surface.

If the course plays as difficult as expected, the 41-year-old is the type of grinder who can contend on one of his favorite tracks.

Matt Wallace +10000 (FanDuel)

Matt Wallace demonstrated his ability to play well on a tough Florida track at last year’s Valspar Championship, where he finished in a tie for 7th. The Englishman has also played reasonably well at PGA National, finishing 29th last year and tied for 20th in 2019.

Wallace played well last week in Mexico and was more involved than his T33 finish would indicate. He struggled in round 4, shooting 74, but indicated that he was “playing for the win” which brought a lot more trouble into play. Wallace is one of the better wind players in the field and has shown winning upside in the past.

The 33-year-old is a grinder with winning upside.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: 2024 Mexico Open First Round Leader picks



The Mexico Open begins on Thursday at beautiful Vidanta Vallarta. The tournament will have a full field this week with most of the big names on the PGA Tour taking the week off.

In the past two editions of the tournament, there have been seven first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the seven, six have come from the morning wave. At first glance, there certainly looks to be an advantage to having an early tee time this week in Mexico but with such a small sample size I won’t put too much stock in that and take a balanced approach.

As of Tuesday, the wind doesn’t look as if it will play a factor at all during round one. It will be about hot and sunny for most of the day with wind gusts never exceeding 7 MPH.

This week, I used the Betsperts Rabbit Hole to see each players floor/ceiling. You can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Mexico Open First-Round-Leader Selections

Jhonnatan Vegas +6000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 12:15 p.m. Local Time

After a long injury layoff, it certainly seems as if Jhonnatan Vegas is “back”. In his most recent start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Venezuelan gained 7.2 strokes ball striking, which was his best performance in the category since June of 2022.

Vegas loves playing on Paspalum, and while he struggles with the putter often, he’s been consistent putting on these slow and spongey surfaces. I expect the big man to have a great week in Mexico.

Harry Hall +9000 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:14 a.m. Local Time

While you wouldn’t expect an Englishman in a flat cap to play his best golf in tropical paradises, that’s certainly been the case for the 24-year-old throughout his career thus far. The 6’4″ UNLV product with a soft touch around the greens has shined in places such as Puerto Rico and Puntacana as well as at Vidanta Vallarta last year.

Hall is a fantastic putter, which never will hurt you in the first-round leader market.

Adrien Dumont de Chassart 100-1 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:54 p.m. Local Time

Those who have been following me this season know that I’m high on this 23-year-old bomber from Belgium. With off the tee prowess being a major point of emphasis at Vidanta Vallarta, it makes sense to give him another crack at the first-round lead once again this week.

In his most recent start at TPC Scottsdale, ADDC gained 4.0 strokes off the tee.

Fred Biondi 130-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:47 a.m. Local Time

Fred Biondi recently won a National Championship as a Florida Gator and has loved playing on coastal courses throughout the early part of his career. In the fall, the Brazilian finished 13th at the Butterfield Bermuda and 23rd at the RSM Classic, with both events having fields either stronger or comparable to this one.

Biondi is a good iron player and putter and should be comfortable playing in Mexico.

Scott Piercy 150-1 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:25 a.m. Local Time

Scott Piercy got in the field this week after Will Zalatoris withdrew following a strong performance at the Genesis Invitational. Piercy may be well past his prime, but this is the type of event where the 47-year-old has thrived over the years.

Piercy has been prone to fast starts and has finished in the top-5 after the first round 32 times in his career and has been within two of the lead in the first round 45 times. He’s also been great on Paspalum, boasting finishes of 6th at the 2018 OHL, 7th at the 2015 CIMB Classic and 4th at the 2016 OHL.

Sebastian Vazquez 300-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:21 p.m. Local Time

Sebastian Vasquez is a name that many golf fans won’t be familiar with but has played some good golf in South America over the course of his career. At last year’s Mexico Open, Vazquez shot an opening round 67. At last year’s World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Vazquez closed his tournament with a Sunday 64, which was just two shots off the round of the day.

The Mexican has been playing this season on the Gira de Golf Profesional Mexicana and doing so relatively well. He also finished 38th at El Cardonal in a pretty strong PGA Tour field. Vazquez could come out and fire a low one while feeling extremely at ease playing in his home country.

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