|Honda Classic - February 25, 2008
THE HONDA CLASSIC
PGA National Resort and Spa
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Par: 35-35—70Yards: 7,158
FedExCup Points: 25,000Winner: 4,500
Purse: $5,500,000Winner: $990,000
2007 Champion: Mark Wilson (275, -5)
The Honda Classic Notes
In his two previous Honda Classic starts, Justin Rose, the seventh-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, tied for 14th in 2005 and tied for 57th in 2004.
Ernie Els is playing in The Honda Classic for the first time since 1999. He will be making his fifth start in this event. In his four previous starts, Els, ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, had his best finish in 1997 when he tied for 23rd. In his only other made cut, in 1999, he tied for 46th.
Charlie Wi holds the PGA National Resort and Spa’s Champion Course 18-hole record. In the first round a year ago, Wi fired a 5-under 65. Five players hold the tournament 18-hole record of 62. They are Hale Irwin (1979, Inverrary Golf and Country Club East Course), Dan Pohl (1989, TPC Eagle Trace), Tim Herron (1996, TPC Eagle Trace), Jerry Kelly and Adam Scott (both in 2003, Country Club of Mirasol Sunset Course).
Two of the last three Honda Classics have ended in multiple-player playoffs. A year ago, Mark Wilson defeated Jose Coceres, Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas. In 2005, Padraig Harrington prevailed over Joe Ogilvie and Vijay Singh. Before the 2005 extra session, the last playoff came in 1993, when Fred Couples defeated Robert Gamez in an event that only went 54 holes because of poor weather.
Of the four players in last year’s playoff—Jose Coceres, Camilo Villegas, Boo Weekley and Mark Wilson, only Wilson had two over-par rounds. He had scores of 72-66-66-71 on the par-70 PGA National Resort and Spa’s Champion Course. All four players who were in the 2007 playoff are competing this week.
Seven players have finished as runner-up at The Honda Classic at least twice, with Payne Stewart placing second four times. The other six are Mark Calcavecchia, Grier Jones, Davis Love III, Jack Nicklaus, Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh. Of that group, Nicklaus (1977-78), Calcavecchia (1987, 1998) and Singh (1999) have also won the event. Calcavecchia and Love are both playing this week.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
- The next four events are in Florida and TOUR professionals will find four difficult courses waiting for them. The Honda Classic starts this week on the Champion Course at PGA National—it was the eighth most difficult course on TOUR last year (out of 55). The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is up next week and it ranked 15th. The TOUR then moves to the Bay Hill course (seventh) and finally Doral (16th).
- Tiger Woods has taken over the lead in the FedExCup points chase following his victory last week. He’s the fifth different person to lead the competition in the first eight weeks of the season and the third different player in the last three weeks.
- Brian Gay’s victory last week at the Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Mayawas his first on the PGA TOUR after 293 career starts. He’s the first, first-time winner on TOUR this year.
- Roland Thatcher began the year number two in his category (#24), but with the reshuffle scheduled for the end of the last week, he was in danger of dropping a considerable amount. He put on a show on the weekend, though, shooting a course record 61 in Mexico on Saturday before a Sunday 68 to finish T9. He’s now 14th following the re-order. The reshuffle occurs throughout the season and rewards players in his category the chance to move up the priority rankings with good play.
- Who made the biggest move in the reshuffle? Rookie Dustin Johnson parlayed his strong play in the first eight weeks to climb from 34th all the way to first. John Merrick moved from 44th to 2nd while rookie Chez Reavie did nearly as well, jumping from 33rd to sixth.
- U.S. players posted a strong record last week at the World Golf
Championships—Accenture Match Play Championship. American players posted a 21-12 record in matches against players from outside the U.S. The U.S. players held an 8-7 lead over European players and won by a 13-5 margin over the rest of the International field.
- Two Champions Tour players made the cut at last week’s PGA TOUR stop in Mexico. Nick Price finished in a T42 while defending champ Fred Funk finished T63. Two players who will join the Champions Tour later this year also played well. Joey Sindelar (50 on March 30) finished T28 while Larry Mize (50 on Sept. 23) finished T22.
- The Champions Tour is off this week but will return next week in
Newport Beach, CA, at the Toshiba Classic. Sandy Lyle, a two-time major championship winner, is expected to make his Champions Tour debut at that event.
- Sandy Lyle is one of five former major championship winners who will be joining the Champions Tour this year. In addition to Lyle, the Champions Tour will also welcome Ian Woosnam (March 2), Hal Sutton (April 28), Larry Mize (Sept. 23) and Steve Jones (Dec. 28).
- Allen Doyle might be a man to watch next week at the Toshiba Classic. In nine career starts at the event, he’s been in the Top-10 seven times including a win, two seconds and a third.
- How important is it to win one of the two events Down Under? In the previous six years of Nationwide Tour play in Australia and New Zealand, 10 of the 12 winners have gone on to graduate to the PGA TOUR that season. Peter O’Malley, twice a winner in New Zealand, is the only player who failed to graduate to the TOUR after his victory since he didn’t continue to play on the Nationwide Tour the remainder of the year.
- Brian Gay’s victory last week in Mexico was the 221st by a former
Nationwide Tour player on the PGA TOUR.
- Only one player had Top-10 finishes in both events Down Under—D.A. Points finished T5 and T7 in New Zealand and Australia, respectively.
- Tee McCabe had his eagle eye working last week at the Moonah Classic. He made four eagles on the week—one in each round. The Nationwide Tour record for one tournament is five set by Chris Smith at the 1997 Cox Classic.