The PGA Tour heads to Florida this week for the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion course. Russell Henley is the defending champion and World Number 1 Rory McIlroy is in the field.

Lowdown:
The PGA Tour heads to Florida this week for the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion course. Russell Henley is the defending champion and World Number 1 Rory McIlroy is in the field.

This event began life as the Jackie Gleason Inverary Classic back in 1972 but it’s been sponsored by Honda since 1982 and has been contested at the PGA National Champion Course since 2007. Over the years, the event has been won by many of golf’s biggest names including – Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite, Nick Price and Vijay Singh. Last year Russell Henley came through a playoff with Ryan Palmer, Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox to take the title.

McIlroy started the final round last year with a two-shot lead but struggled to a 74. He returns to PGA National this week aiming to go one better and repeat the victory he recorded in this event back in 2012. He’s been on an incredible run of form since last summer and few would bet against him this week.

The Champion Course at PGA National is one of the toughest on the PGA Tour circuit. A feature of the course is the stretch from the 15th to the 17th. These holes have been dubbed “The Bear Trap” after course re-designer Jack Nicklaus. A par 3, then a par 4 and another par 3, each tee shot demands a supremely accurate shot to a very narrow landing area.

The forecast is for gusting winds which could add to the challenge the players face in Palm Beach Gardens. There’s also a possibility of storms disrupting play.

Venue: PGA National (Champion), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Date: Feb 26 – Mar 1
Course stats: par 70, 7,140 yards
Purse: $6,100,000 Winner: $1,098,000
Defending Champion: Russell Henley (-8)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Friday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Saturday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm
Sunday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch:
Rory McIlroy will start this event as overwhelming favourite. Who else might feature?

Paul Casey – He comes into this event after losing out in a playoff for last week’s Northern Trust Open. He will look to build on that performance with another solid result here. He was tied fourth in this event back in 2010 and was 12th last year.

Ryan Palmer – He lost in a playoff for this tournament last year and has been on great form so far in 2015, with five top-25 finishes in six starts.

Brooks Koepka – He announced himself as a big name on the PGA Tour with victory in the Phoenix Open – he knows this course and it should suit his game.

Key hole: 17th. This is an extremely challenging par-3, the last hole of the “bear trap.” Water lurks right and the prevailing wind pushes balls in this direction. A bunker lurks long and to the left so this is a must-find green.

Skills required: Minimising mistakes. This is not a course that witnesses a huge number of birdies. The winner will play the percentages and grind out a score. Look for something between six and ten under par to win this one.