Just the one stop for Tour in South Florida
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA. — For golf fans of South Florida, the Honda Classic should not be missed this week. That’s because for the first time since 1970, it will be the only time this year that the best in golf congregate in this part of the Sunshine State.
Instead of going to Doral the following week, the PGA Tour has moved that World Golf Championship event to Mexico City.
Then again, the “best in golf ” relates to the PGA Tour being the strongest circuit. The current “best in golf ” is not at PGA National this week — Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth are taking the week off or are injured. That leaves Adam Scott (No. 7) as the highestranked player at the Honda Classic. Even if he wins, he still will be No. 7.
The star might be PGA National, with all its water looking even more dangerous in the wind. The last few years have been particularly exciting, with Scott and Padraig Harrington seemingly throwing away the tournament and still finding a way to win.
Not only is this the only golf in Florida this week, it’s the only golf in the U.S. The LPGA is still on its Asian Swing, while Europe still isn’t in Europe. The PGA Tour Champions and Web.com Tour both are off until the middle of next month.
PGA National is where Jack Nicklaus (1971) and Larry Nelson (1987) each won a PGA Championship, and where the Americans narrowly hung on to win the Ryder Cup in 1983 despite Seve Ballesteros hitting a 3-wood out of a fairway bunker on the 18th by cutting it around a steep lip.
So there have been plenty of heroics.
But lately, it’s about avoiding a meltdown at the Honda Classic.
In 2015, Padraig Harrington looked like a sure winner until he hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 17th hole and made double bogey to fall one shot behind. Harrington birdied the 18th with a 15-foot putt and, given a second chance at the 17th in a playoff, hit his 5-iron to 4 feet. He missed the putt, but it didn’t matter because Daniel Berger hit into the water.
Keep this in mind: In the 10 previous years at PGA National, Camilo Villegas in 2010 was the only player to win by more than two shots. He won by five that year over some guy named Anthony Kim.