DFS Dish: The Honda Classic

From Gold to Sunshine, the PGA TOUR heads from California to the Southeast this week for The Honda Classic at PGA National.

The course is a familiar one so it's easy to analyze, but not so easy to play. There is water in play on 15 holes which means big numbers are lurking around every corner.

While staying dry is a top priority this week, we also want to take a look at grass stats as a return to the Southeast means we are back on bermudagrass after a long stretch of cool-season turf (poa annua or overseeded greens) to start the new year.

Bouncing Back on Bermuda

PGA National has overseeded rough but the greens are TifEagle Bermuda.

Every year when we come back to town there are a handful of golfers that rave about returning back home to bermudagrass surfaces. It's really a comfort factor for a lot of these pros that set up shop in Florida or Georgia.

"I think all of us southern guys growing up on Bermudagrass, I know we don't live here, but in Sea Island we play a lot on similar grasses and similar conditions. I think that's a huge part of it. We're very comfortable with these kind of grasses and conditions." -Harris English in 2020

"Poa annua is the farthest thing away from what I grew up on, so I like getting to Florida, nice Bermuda. I'm close to home, too, which is good. But I like getting to that Florida Swing." -Gary Woodland in 2019

"It's nice being on Bermuda greens again coming from the West Coast, so I think just that fact alone, me being a good putter, I get excited about that." Michael Thompson in 2019

The list could go on and on but you get the idea. Golfers that may have struggled in recent weeks may get a sudden jolt with the flat stick this week.

Here are the top performers in adjusted strokes gained per round when playing courses with bermuda greens, over the last two years:

Thomas Detry
Billy Horschel
Sungjae Im
Aaron Wise
Chris Kirk
Matt Kuchar
Jhonattan Vegas
Charley Hoffman
Benjamin Griffin
Denny McCarthy
Stephan Jaeger
Webb Simpson
Alex Noren
Russell Knox
Ben Taylor

We can also look at performance versus baseline to see who shows the largest increase in performance compared to their typical scores:

Thomas Detry
Ben Taylor
Benjamin Griffin
Charley Hoffman
Brian Gay
Paul Haley II
Erik Barnes
Stephan Jaeger
Andrew Novak
Garrick Higgo
Satoshi Kodaira
Carl Yuan
Russell Knox
Lee Hodges
Chris Kirk

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Thomas Detry, Chris Kirk, Charley Hoffman, Ben Griffin, Stephan Jaeger, Rusell Knox, and Ben Taylor.

It's not too surprising to see five of the seven names reside in the Southeast, getting most of their off-week practice reps on bermuda.

Go Steady with Detry

The PGA TOUR rookie has top 40s in eight of nine starts this season. He went to school at Illinois so he's no stranger to windy conditions. His price continues to rise but he's likely worth the price tag while he's playing at such a consistent rate. Notable finishes for Detry this season include a runner-up finish at the Bermuda Championship and T9 at the Sanderson Farms, both on bermuda turf.

Comfortable Kirk

He arrives with a pair of podiums on his 2023 game log but also enjoys returning home to bermudagrass. "If I know the greens are real quick and I can just kind of let it go, that seems to be when I hit my best putts and I seem to be pretty decent at reading Bermuda greens, so it's a combination of a number of things, but yeah, it's just what I'm most comfortable on." That's what he said last year when he found himself T7 or better after all four rounds at the 2022 Honda.