Rickie Fowler is defending champion in The Honda Classic at PGA National and will be up against a field including Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods.
The Honda Classic Preview, TV Times
10 of the World’s top-25 ranked players are scheduled to tee it up in The Honda Classic this week at PGA National. Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are among those on the start sheet.
Tiger Woods continues his comeback in an event he last entered in 2014. That year, he was forced to withdraw mid-tournament after suffering back spasms. Woods lives close to PGA National but this is an event he has never actually won. He finished as a runner-up to Rory McIlroy back in 2012.
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, Rickie Fowler held on to end a 14-month winless spell on the PGA Tour.
The Champion Course at PGA National is one of the toughest on the PGA Tour circuit. Originally created by George and Tom Fazio, it was the venue for the 1983 Ryder Cup and the 1987 PGA Championship.
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.
This week provides the final chance for players to qualify to play in the WGC-Mexico Championship. If anyone, not already qualified can climb into the World’s Top-50 or the top-10 on the FedEx Cup points standings, they’ll earn a place.
It looks like being a breezy week, as is generally the case in The Honda. That could suit those most skilled at controlling their ball flight.
Venue: PGA National (Champion), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Date: Feb 22-25
Course stats: par 70, 7,110 yards
Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12)
How to watch The Honda Classic
Thursday 22 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm (Featured Groups – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 2pm)
Friday 23 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm (Featured Groups – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 2pm)
Saturday 24 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 9.45pm
Sunday 25 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm
Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch The Honda Classic?
Why not buy a Now TV pass? For £7.99 you can get a day pass if you wish to watch one of the rounds or, for just £12.99, you can get a week pass to see the whole tournament.
Players to watch:
Rickie Fowler – The defending champion has a great record in this event. Look out for possible back-to-back Honda titles for Rickie.
Rickie’s win last year:
Sergio Garcia – He’s another man who loves the PGA National course. He’s never missed the cut in The Honda and has two top-10 finishes to his name. He’s already a winner this year, in Singapore.
Alex Noren – The Swede has been impressive on the PGA Tour this year. He narrowly missed out at the Farmers, losing a playoff and has placed tied 21st and tied 16th since then. This course 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 around the 10-under par to win this one.