The PGA Tour travels to Florida this week for the Honda Classic. Y.E. Yang defends the title but he’ll be up against a high-quality field including Europeans – Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington.
The event began life as the Jackie Gleason Inverary Classic back in 1972 but it’s been sponsored by Honda since 1982. Over the years, the competition has been won by many of golf’s biggest names including – Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite, Nick Price and Vijay Singh. Back in 2005 Padraig Harrington took the title, winning a playoff against Joe Ogilvie and Vijay Singh.
The tournament marks the start of the PGA Tour’s “Florida Swing” with four tournaments contested in the State through March. Many of the world’s top players will tee it up this week as they complete preparations for the second WGC event of the year – The CA Championship to be held next week at Doral.
The Champion Course at PGA National is one of the toughest on the PGA Tour circuit. Last year it ranked as the seventh hardest on Tour with the average score 1.378 shots over par. 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.
Y.E. Yang came out on top in last year’s event, beating John Rollins by a single shot. Yang’s winning total of 9-under-par was the lowest since the tournament moved to PGA National.
Venue: Champion Course, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach, Florida
Date: Mar 4-7
Course stats: par 70, 7,158 yards
Purse: $5,600,000 Winner: $1,008,000
Defending Champion: Y.E. Yang (-9)
Thursday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Friday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Sunday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Y.E Yang – Last year’s champion made an excellent run at last week’s Phoenix Open. He seems to be coming on to his best game at just the right time to make a solid defence of his title.
Robert Allenby – The Australian is one of the most consistent performers in the world at the moment. He’s finished in the top-five three times at PGA National and recorded a top-10 last week in Phoenix.
Rory McIlroy – The young Northern Irishman was tied for 13th in this tournament last year and he’s looking to make a big impression on the PGA Tour.
Key hole: 16th. A 434-yard par 4, it doglegs to the right with everything sloping towards the water on the right side. Bail out to the left and you’re faced with a 220-yard shot over water into the prevailing wind.
Skills required: Grinding. This is a long and testing par-70 course with a run of tough holes towards the end. The focus must be on minimising errors and taking opportunities as and when they arise.