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The Honda Classic DFS golf plays

First Tee to Last Call: Sláinte

by Conor Coughlin

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! This is hands down one of my favorite days to indulge in distilled spirits. Maybe it’s because my ancestry is entirely of Irish descent. Or maybe it’s just because I love to have drinks with my friends and it’s a great excuse. Either way, I love throwing on every piece of green clothing I have and heading out to the bar.

I love when St. Patrick’s Day falls in the middle of the week. You have the opportunity to celebrate it up to three times the weekend before, the day of and/or the weekend after. The weekend after is a stretch but, let’s be honest, if I’ve dedicated two days of a seven-day window to drinking, I might as well add a third. I’m not suggesting anyone go on a week-long bender, but if the mood strikes you to be a little Irish, you have the opportunity.

Traditionally, I like to stick to the staples: Guinness, Jameson and maybe an “Irish Car Bomb” or two. All of these will absolutely guarantee you a festive holiday. However, this year I have also added a few high-end Irish Whiskeys to the menu. Here are a few of my favorites if you aren’t out drinking for sport!

Blue Spot Irish Whiskey

I am very fortunate to have been in a local whiskey bar that had recently received this. The last time it was available stateside was several decades ago. Some people will be familiar with Green Spot Irish Whiskey  which I also love  this is a seven-year variant of that 10-year. It is cask strength, non-chill filtered whiskey matured in ex-bourbon barrels, sherry butts and Madeira casks.

The nose is citrusy, bright and sweet. The taste is all of those things mixed with a bit of black pepper and finished a bit like brown sugar. If you happen to see a bottle of this, make sure you pick it up! Better yet, tell me where you found it and I’ll pick it up!

Redbreast 12 Year

This is another whiskey I am more than happy to sip neat. It is triple distilled in copper pot stills and then aged for 12 years in a combination of bourbon oak and oloroso sherry oak. There’s a lot of complexity to the nose and taste. I get a nice pronounced spice from both. There are strong, sweet fruit notes that stand out as well, and all of them play well lingering on your palate. Redbreast will be significantly easier to find than the Blue Spot above but it is equally amazing in its own right.

Kilbeggan Single Grain

Alright, so this is not on the same level as the previously mentioned whiskeys. However, this is one of the more underrated Irish Whiskeys I’ve had. Especially considering you can typically find a bottle for less than $30. The mash bill is about 94 percent corn, which makes it higher than a lot of American whiskeys. That may be why I like it.

The flavors are sweet and the mouthfeel is buttery. You can sip this neat or throw it in a cocktail and not feel the least bit bad about your decision. I would absolutely recommend trying this one in place of Jameson in your cocktail sometime. I love “Jamo” too, but this is a nice change of pace when you’re mixing drinks.

There are so many good Irish Whiskeys out there. But on St. Paddy’s when you need to get the job done, accept no substitute. Pour me a Jameson!

Moving on to something that will be far less satisfying – The Honda Classic. This is quite possibly my least favorite tournament. The course is very difficult. The field of players is subpar. The pun is definitely not intended, as will be proven by the final scores, I’m guessing.

This week’s course is PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It’s a par 70 and plays just over 7,100 yards. The course is Bermuda grass with a typically deep rough. There are more water hazards than you could ever ask for. The weather looks to be trending in a good direction, but this course does tend to get windy. I’m predicting the winning score to be somewhere around -12 par. I’m hopeful we get more scoring but typically that is not the case.

Honda Classic Picks

Daniel Berger ($10,800)

Daniel Berger is my favorite play this week and it’s not even close. He has four top 10’s in his last six starts. He rates out in the top 10 in every statistic in my model. He’s playing great golf. Unfortunately, everyone is using him this week. I have his ownership trending towards almost 30 percent. If you absolutely want to fade the chalk here, take a look at Adam Scott. His ownership will be about half that of Berger and his win equity does represent a good pivot opportunity.

Cameron Tringale ($9,100)

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used Cameron Tringale over the course of the years. I have never gotten him right. So here’s to hoping. He is No. 1 in my mixed condition model. He rates out in the top five for bogey avoidance, shots gained on par 5’s and shots gained on par 4’s. He’s in the top ten in ball-striking and his approach game has been solid, as of late. He was trending nicely prior to last week and I’m hopeful that the missed cut will keep people off of him. Ownership looks to be slightly in favor of Chris Kirk right below him at $9,000 (I like Kirk too). Tringale has a great chance to bounce right back this week against this less-than-stellar field.

James Hahn ($7,300)

James Hahn is someone I’ve been using more often. He hasn’t given me the return I’ve wanted yet, but I feel like he has a chance this week. His stats aren’t necessarily the most impressive in the field, flirting with the top 30 in most metrics. He has some good results this season though. Four top 10’s and only three missed cuts. His ball-striking and tee to the green game are trending in the right direction. I’m going to roll Hahn out again this week. In this field, this might be his time.

Other Golfers I Like this Week

Joaquin Niemann ($10,400)

Russell Henley ($9,800)

Doug Ghim ($8,800)

Maverick McNealy ($7,200)

Tom Hoge ($6,900)

Thanks for reading, and good luck this week!

I use Fantasynational.com for analytics and statistical modeling. If you’re looking for an edge check them out!

Conor Coughlin @aRandomGr3nade

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