Ernie Els defends the title at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens. 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 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. 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” and the circuit remains in the State for all of March.
Relatively cool and wet weather means the PGA National Champions Course is looking lush and green, the greens are fairly soft so the accurate ball-strikers will have an advantage as they look to play some “target golf.”
Golf’s “next big thing” Rory McIlroy is among the starters in Palm Beach Gardens and he’ll be looking to build on his excellent performance at the WGC – Accenture Match Play last week.
Venue: PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Date: Mar 5-8
Course stats: par 70, 7,158 yards
Purse: $5,500,000 Winner: $990,000
Defending champion: Ernie Els (-6)
Thursday 5th – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Friday 6th – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Saturday 7th – Live on Setanta Golf from 8pm
Sunday 8th – Live on Setanta Golf from 7pm
Camilo Villegas – The Colombian has a good record in South Florida. He lost in a playoff in this event two years ago, but returns in 2009 as a far more complete player.
Davis Love III – He’s re-found some of his best form and finished runner-up here in 2003 then again in 2004. He also has considerable experience in the tournament, it’ll be his 15th start.
Stewart Cink – He finished the Accenture on a high. Beating Ross Fisher in the third place playoff. Look for him to continue that good play this week.
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.