2024 Cognizant Classic: Preview, Prop Picks, Best Bets

The popular PGA Tour stop at PGA National long known as the Honda Classic has rebranded to the Cognizant Classic, and it has drawn two top-10 players to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for the first time since 2019.

Those would be World No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 9 Matt Fitzpatrick, who will be battling a deep field of players competing for the final spots available for next week’s signature event at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Our golf experts preview the event that begins Thursday on The Champion course, and provide their favorite prop picks along with best bets to win this week.

COGNIZANT CLASSIC

Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Feb. 29-March 3

Course: PGA National, The Champion (Par 71, 7,147 yards)

Purse: $9M (Winner: $1.62M)

Defending Champion: Chris Kirk

FedEx Cup Leader: Matthieu Pavon

HOW TO FOLLOW

TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC)

Streaming (ESPN+): Thursday-Sunday, 6:45 a.m.-6 p.m.

X: @CognizantClassic

PROP PICKS

–Carson Young to Beat Jake Knapp (-120 at DraftKings): Knapp has had a whirlwind week following his maiden PGA Tour win in Mexico, where Young quietly finished T8. Young has made the weekend in six of his past seven starts and enters the week a career-best 162nd in the world.

–Rory McIlroy and Eric Cole Top 20 (+230 at BetMGM): McIlroy is the heavy pre-tournament favorite to win and is -225 to finish Top 20 on his own. Cole is +125 to finish in the Top 20, which the reigning rookie of the year has done in seven of his past 10 starts. We like the pairing of the two to provide a better payout.

–McIlroy Top Irish Player (-225 at DraftKings): We’re doubling down on McIlroy against a softer field as he builds momentum toward Bay Hill, the Players and the Masters. The Northern Irishman is up against Shane Lowry (+225) and Padraig Harrington (+1100) in this group. Lowry has consecutive top-5s at PGA National — two of the four top-5s he has on tour since the start of the 2021-22 season. Harrington snapped a streak of four consecutive missed cuts with a T70 in the United Arab Emirates and a T52 in Mexico his past two starts.

2024 Prop Picks Record: 12-12

BEST BETS

–Rory McIlroy (+800 at BetMGM) is the heavy betting favorite as he makes his first appearance at PGA National since 2018. He won the event in 2012 and is coming off a win in The Match 9 charity event on Monday night. McIlroy is the book’s third-biggest liability, drawing a field-high 6.4 percent of the bets and 12.9 percent of the money since opening at +750. McIlroy has received even heavier action at DraftKings, where he leads with 25 percent of the money backing him at +700.

–Cameron Young (+2200) is still seeking his first tour victory as he comes off a T16 at the Genesis. He opened at +2000 and is second in the field with 4.7 percent of the total bets and third with 5.3 percent of the money backing him to win.

–Eric Cole (+2500) lost to Kirk in a playoff last year en route to becoming the only rookie to qualify for the second leg of the playoffs at the BMW Championship. He’s third at BetMGM with 4.1 percent of the total bets backing him.

–Matt Fitzpatrick (+3300) joins No. 2 McIlroy as top-10 players in the field. Fitzpatrick enters the event at No. 9. He is +3000 at DraftKings, where the Englishman is fifth with 4 percent of the money backing him.

–Shane Lowry (+3300) has finished in the top-10 each of the past two years at PGA National. The Irishman has longer odds at +4500 at DraftKings, where he has been supported by 7 percent of the total bets.

–Kirk (+4000) opened 2024 with a win at The Sentry and will be defending his fifth career tour title this week.

–Stephan Jaeger (+4000) has two T3s in his past three starts.

–Adam Svensson (+4000) is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week as he’s second in the field with 5.4 percent of the money backing him to win. The Canadian is coming off a T10 at the Genesis and finished T49 here a year ago.

–Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+5500) is the book’s second-biggest liability. He has three consecutive top-25 results and did finish solo second at the American Express last month.

NOTES

–The top 10 players in the FedEx Cup standings after this event who did not finish in the Top 50 last season will earn spots into next week’s signature event at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Aon Swing 5 will be comprised of the next five players earning the most points at this event and last week’s Mexico Open. Finland’s Sami Valimaki, who finished second last week, tops the Aon Swing 5 and has secured his spot at Bay Hill.

–The 10th hole at PGA National has been converted from a 508-yard par-4 into a 530-yard par-5. Last season, the 14-hole stretch from No. 4 through No. 17 ranked as the longest stretch on tour without a par 5.

–Ryan Palmer will make his 500th career PGA Tour start.

–Justin Leonard holds the tournament scoring record of 264 set in 2003.