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2024 Cognizant Classic Odds & Picks

Thomas Snodgrass

Updated: Feb 27, 2024


Every week, I focus on six golfers from the top, middle and bottom of the outright winners betting board for each PGA tournament.

In last week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta, I did not highlight the eventual winner, Jake Knapp, but four of the six golfers I did highlight finished inside the Top 20.

Including Andrew Novak, whose T8 finish down in Mexico has given him back-to-back Top 10 finishes.

With Novak’s Top 20 odds coming in at +400, bettors don’t have to focus solely on selecting the lone man atop the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.

This week, the PGA Tour heads east, with the Cognizant Classic being played at PGA National in Palm Beach, Florida.

Defending champion Chris Kirk makes his return after going 14-under in 2023 and besting Eric Cole in a playoff for the win.

Kirk, always a solid ball striker, is a natural fit for this course.

PGA National features water hazards on 15 holes and heavily rewards those that can score on its famous par-3s, including the well-known “Bear Trap”; the par-3 15th and 17th holes bookending a tricky par-4 16th.

Golfers that know how to split fairways and evade hazards will be the ones to watch for this week, and with massive surface greens, putting will always be a priority at PGA National.

In the 2023 edition of this tournament, the top four putters of the week all finished inside the top five.

I will be focusing on golfers that are decently long off the tee, but with a heavier weight on splitting fairways, a strong approach game, and recent form putting as a bonus.

Also, golfers will need to minimize mistakes this week to remain in red numbers, so bogey avoidance is another statistic I’ll have my eye on.

In this field of 144 golfers, it’ll be the top 65 and ties that make the weekend.

Let’s examine a few golfers that can pull off a victory at PGA National this week, or at least finish in the Top 20.

All golfer selections are paired with the best odds!

Top Of The Board

Rory McIlroy is the biggest name in the tournament this week and his odds reflect that.

But there are plenty of great golfers in the field this week, and with McIlroy’s best odds coming in at +800 on bet365, he has been priced out for me.

Tony Finau had similar odds last week, but the Mexico Open at Vidanta had Korn Ferry Tour vibes.

The field is a little too strong for me to back McIlroy at less than 10-1, especially with 2024 being the year of longshot winners.

Eric Cole

Cole fired back-to-back rounds of 74 to miss the cut at the Farmers Insurance open, and that lone missed cut is an outlier in his seven events this season.

In the other six tournaments, Cole has finished T21 or better, with his most recent showing being a T10 finish in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

Cole seems to be trending in the right direction, and he has the numbers to back it up.

Currently 25th on Tour in strokes gained: total, Cole is also 29th in strokes gained: approach and 31st in strokes gained: putting.

A deeper look at Cole’s numbers show that he is 10th on Tour in proximity, 47th in driving accuracy, and 22nd in bogey avoidance.

Cole’s game fits this course like a glove, and last season he proved it by cardinag a 67-66-66-67 run over four rounds for 14-under

Then he lost in the playoff to Kirk.

Time for Cole to get back that victory.

Pick: Cole – Outright Winner (+2500) BetMGM

Cole For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+140) DraftKings

J.T. Poston

Poston has had a strong start to the season, with a run of T5, 6th, T11, T20, missed cut, T10.

If Poston makes it to the weekend, he has a good shot at a Top 20.

Although he is 152nd on Tour in driving distance, Poston is 43rd in driving accuracy, and his precision over power game should play nicely at PGA National.

Poston is gaining strokes over the field in nearly every statistical category, sitting 40th in strokes gained: putting, 14th in greens in regulation, 43rd in proximity, and 6th in scoring average (67.67).

Also, Poston has done well in scoring categories, currently 12 in birdie average and 7th in bogey avoidance.

Some sportsbooks have Poston at +2000, but he can be had for the very valuable price of +3300 at bet365.

Arguably, Poston has been the most consistent golfer of the season thus far, and with his all-around game in a good form at the moment, he should be able to avoid hazards and bogeys much more regularly than the rest of the field.

Pick: Poston – Outright Winner | Best Odds: (+3300) bet365

Poston For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+150) FanDuel

Middle Of The Board

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Similarly to Cole and Poston, Christiaan Bezuidenhout has missed just one cut (Farmers), and has finished well in his other events, with a solo second, T20, T28, and T24.

Always a strong putter, Bezuidenhout is currently 49th in strokes gained: putting, and the South African should continue to gain strokes against the field with the flatstick.

With the Cognizant Classic being a ball-strikers-dominated track at PGA National, I wouldn’t consider Bezuidenhout in the past, but his ball striking has really come along.

Bezuidenhout is currently third on Tour in strokes gained: approach and eighth on Tour in proximity.

Some of the more difficult par 4s on Tour are at PGA National, and even if Bezuidenhout doesn’t go well into the red numbers on the par 4s, he should limit mistakes as he is 10th on tour in par 4 scoring.

If Bezuidenhout can keep his drives in the fairway and avoid the multitude of water hazards, he has the irons and the putter to go low this week.

Pick: Bezuidenhout – Outright Winner | Best Odds: (+6000) FanDuel

Bezuidenhout For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+250) DraftKings

Akshay Bhatia

As last year’s winner Chris Kirk has shown, you don’t need the long ball to win at PGA National.

For Akshay Bhatia, he doesn’t have distance, but the lefty has everything else.

Although he does have two missed cuts in five events, Bhatia also has a collection of high finishes this season, with a T14 at The Sentry, a T13 at the Sony Open, and a T13 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Bhatia is solid at splitting the fairways (40th in driving accuracy), he’s solid at hitting the greens (20th in greens in regulation) and with precision (5th in proximity), and he’s done a fine job cleaning up on the greens (27th in strokes gained: putting).

Also a strong scorer, Bhatia is 22nd in birdie or better percentage and 25th in bogey avoidance.

The biggest hiccup in Bhatia’s game right now: Round 1.

In the opening round, Bhatia’s scoring average is 70.6 strokes (117th on Tour).

If Bhatia can get into the red numbers in the first round, he could make a push for his second career PGA victory.

For both the outright and Top 20 markets, Bhatia is my value of the week.

Pick: Bhatia – Outright Winner | Best Odds: (+8000) Caesars

Bhatia For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+300) BetMGM

Bottom Of The Board

Billy Horschel

The former Florida Gator heads back to Florida this week!

Horschel has had an impressive PGA career, collecting seven victories and claiming the 2014 FedEx Cup.

Horschel has not won on Tour since the Memorial Tournament in June of 2022, so his name appears to be fading out of the conversation for best golfers in the world.

Horschel is still ranked 94th in the Official World Golf Ranking, but it certainly feels like forever since he hoisted the FedEx Cup a decade ago.

Time flies.

In his last four trips to PGA National, Horschel has gone T16, T42, T16, T42.

Based purely off this pattern and nothing else, Horschel is due for a T16.

Despite missing two cuts in his first four events, Horschel has played pretty well, with his current strengths being driving accuracy (15th on Tour) and putting (5th in strokes gained: putting).

Horschel should find plenty of fairways, which should only assist his 11th-ranked greens in regulation percentage, approaching from the short grass.

With a ranking of 26th in strokes gained: total, Horschel is still one of the best golfers on Tour.

The Floridian will contend in Florida.

Pick: Horschel – Outright Winner | Best Odds: (+12500) Caesars

Horschel For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+400) DraftKings

Padraig Harrington

The 52-year-old Irishman kicked-off his season with a T52. Symmetry!

Another example of how time flies, Harrington has not won on Tour since the Honda Classic in 2015.

The Honda Classic is this very tournament, now under the name Cognizant Classic!

Does Paddy still have what it takes to win on Tour?

Probably not.

Could he still push for a Top 20?

I think so.

When looking at his numbers on the Champions Tour, old man Harrington is near the top in almost every category.

At the end of the day, golf is a game of physics. Age is the least important number in deciding who can or can’t win.

If Phil Mickelson can win a major at the age of 50, Harrington can take down the “Bear Trap” at 52, or at the very least, make the cut.

Pick: Harrington – Outright Winner | Best Odds: (+60000) bet365

Harrington For Top 20 | Best Odds: (+1400) BetMGM

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