Just the one stop for Tour in South Florida

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DOUG FER­GU­SON

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.

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