They might not be in the lead, but the storyline from the first day of the PGA Tour’s Florida swing is quite clear: Two young, exciting potential future stars — Justin Suh and Pierceson Coody — aren’t on top of the tournament but might control the weekend narrative.
Suh was last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year, and Coody is the probably the favorite to nab this year’s honors. They both shot 4 under on Thursday in Round 1 of the Honda Classic.
Both players trailed the leaders, Billy Horschel and Joseph Bramlett, when play was suspended due to darkness, but you can be sure everyone will be focused on Suh and Coody going into Friday’s second round.
T1. Billy Horschel, Joseph Bramlett (-5)
Bramlett and Coody combined to make just one bogey over the course of their 36 holes Thursday, which is crazy given PGA National’s difficulty.
“Just played really solid,” Horschel said. “Didn’t do anything special. Hit some quality iron shots here and there. I wouldn’t say everything was sort of automatic and it was easy. I had to just sort of work my way into making some good swings here and there. But overall it was a really solid day of golf. Making a couple putts there at number 11 and 13 from about 25, 30 feet never hurts. Sort of got me in a good frame of mind and got me with some good mojo going early.”
If that sounds boring, that’s kind of the point. Golf at difficult courses is supposed to be boring. In fact, the more boring the better. Bramlett and Horschel combined to hit 27 greens in regulation on Thursday and made enough long putts to grab an early lead. The question, in the face of young, hungry stars, is whether it will hold.
T3. Carson Young, Pierceson Coody, Justin Suh (-4)
We don’t need to go any further down the board than right here. Coody was second in the field in iron play. Suh was 12th in driving. Both are in the hunt for what would be a massive first PGA Tour victory.
“It really just feels like another professional event,” said Coody, who was playing golf at Texas this time last year. “I’ve only played about 13 or 14 professional or I guess, whatever, 15 events. But other than the big grandstands it’s not that different. You’re just playing golf, you’re trying to put a good score together. No real nerves out there. Just happy to play well.”
Coody has already won twice as a pro in just 15 starts, including one earlier this year. If he doesn’t win this week, he’ll likely be stuck on the Korn Ferry Tour for most of the rest of 2023.
“The Korn Ferry Tour’s been great for me,” Coody said. “I would have loved to get my PGA Tour [card] last year, obviously, but I’m still excited to play a full season of professional golf out there and see how well I can do. It prepares you. The first few golf courses that we played, I won in Panama and it could not be more similar to this. Kind of a tropical, Bermuda situation with a lot of wind.
“So it’s really cool to see that my game translates and I hope to continue that.”
Sungjae Im (T16) and Shane Lowry (T14) are lurking here as well. Both have a history at PGA National. Im won the 2020 edition, and Lowry nearly won a year ago before Sepp Straka took him down on the final few holes. Both finished in the top 10 in tee-to-green play on Thursday and will be problematic for both the leaders as well as Coody and Suh.
2023 Honda Classic updated odds and picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Sungjae Im: 21/4
- Billy Horschel: 11/2
- Joseph Bramlett: 10-1
- Shane Lowry: 12-1
- Justin Suh: 18-1
Coody (45-1!) is the play here. That’s a crazy number considering how weak the field is and how much he’s won as a professional. Im is the rock here, and Lowry is to be trusted as well, but if you’re looking for value, you can find it in the Longhorn (or Suh at 18-1 as well).