|Honda Classic - March 01, 2010
THE HONDA CLASSIC
PGA National Resort and Spa (Champion)
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Par: 35-35—70 Yards: 7,158
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 500
Purse: $5,600,000 Winner: $1,008,000
2009 Champion: Y.E. Yang (271, -9)
Yang's Honda Classic Win Led to Career Year
Y.E. Yang won his first PGA TOUR event a year ago when he shot a final-round 68 at PGA National Resort and Spa’s Champion Course to capture The Honda Classic. The win was a sign of things to come, as Yang followed his success in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, with a victory at the PGA Championship in August.
After winning a little more than $461,000 in 2008, Yang, a native of Jeju-do, South Korea, broke out in a big way in 2009, winning twice, finishing 23rd in the FedExCup and earning $3,489,516. He is currently 17th in the FedExCup and is coming off a third-place finish last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The Honda Classic is the first of four consecutive PGA TOUR events in Florida. Following The Honda Classic, the second World Golf Championships of the season — the CA Championship — takes place at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, with the Transitions Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard after that.
The Honda Classic Notes
Y.E. Yang became just the second South Korean-born player to capture a PGA TOUR title, joining seven-time winner K.J. Choi, when Yang won last year. Yang, who later in the 2009 season won the PGA Championship, will tee it up this week seeking to become the second player to successfully defend at The Honda Classic. The other was Jack Nicklaus in 1977 and 1978.
A strong field of 144 players will be playing this week at PGA National’s Champion Course. Besides defending champion Y.E. Yang, also in the field are Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, and Padraig Harrington, all in the Official World Golf Ranking top 10. Other international player competing are Australia’s Robert Allenby, Spain’s Sergio Garcia, South Africa’s Ernie Els, England’s Luke Donald, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and Fiji’s Vijay Singh.
The Honda Classic past champions playing this week are Y.E Yang, Ernie Els, Mark Wilson, Padraig Harrington, Todd Hamilton, Justin Leonard, Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia, Stuart Appleby and Tim Herron.
Four winners on the 2010 PGA TOUR are playing this week: Ryan Palmer (Sony Open in Hawaii), Ben Crane (Farmers Insurance Open), Bill Haas (Bob Hope Classic) and Cameron Beckman (Mayakoba Golf Classic Riviera Maya-Cancun).
There are four players competing this week who have attained double-digit PGA TOUR victories. Vijay Singh leads the way with 34, followed by Davis Love III (20), Mark Calcavecchia and David Duval (13 each) and Justin Leonard (12).
While Davis Love III has never won this tournament, he was the runner-up in back-to-back seasons (2003 and 2004). Love and Chad Campbell finished a stroke behind Justin Leonard in 2003, and Love again fell by one stroke in 2004, to Todd Hamilton.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR moves to Florida this week for The Honda Classic and if recent history is any indicator look for an international player to do well. Four of the last five winners of the tournament have been from outside the U.S. — Padraig Harrington (Ireland, 2005), Luke Donald (England, 2006), Ernie Els (South Africa, 2008) and Y.E. Yang (South Korea, 2009).
Since The Honda Classic began the event has been won by players from nine different countries—U.S., Australia, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Sweden, Ireland, England, South Africa and South Korea.
Look out for the par-3s at PGA National, site of this week’s Honda Classic. The 17th hole was the most difficult par-3 on TOUR last year averaging 3.395 strokes. There were more double bogeys or more (45) than birdies (27) on the week. The 15th hole was the fourth-most difficult par-3 on TOUR last year (3.322) and it too saw more doubles or worse (41) than birdies (29).
While the tournament has a history of first-time winners, 11 in all, they have not been one-hit wonders. In fact, all 11 went on to win again, four of them winning major championships — Larry Nelson, Todd Hamilon, Padraig Harington and Y.E. Yang.
Two of the last six winners of the Honda Classic —Todd Hamilton and Y.E. Yang — went on to win major championships later in the season.
Brett Wetterich will make his first start since the 2008 U.S. Open this week at the Honda Classic. Wetterich has been recovering from torn tendons in his right wrist.
Several players made substantial jumps in the priority rankings and improved their access to TOUR events after the first re-shuffle of the season. Brian Stuard gained 34 places on the Q-School/Nationwide Tour priority list, climbing from 39th to 5th while Rickie Fowler jumped up 32 spots from 33rd to 1st and Spencer Levin 31 going from 45th to 14th.
Chris Couch finished T4 last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his first Top-10 finish since winning the 2006 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Fred Couples and Tom Lehman each tuned up for this week’s Toshiba Classic by playing and playing well on the PGA TOUR. Each finished T14 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with 10-under 274 scores.
Newport Beach CC, site of this week’s Toshiba Classic, is the shortest course on the Champions Tour playing to 6,584 yards.
The first three events of the Champions Tour season have been won by former Masters champions. There are eight entered into this week’s Toshiba Classic — Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Larry Mize, Mark O’Meara, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller.
The Nationwide Tour travels to South America this week for the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open in Colombia. It marks the first time that any of the three Tours under the PGA TOUR umbrella have played an official money event on the continent.
Nationwide Tour graduate Camilo Villegas helped bring the Nationwide Tour to his native Colombia this week. Villegas will participate in a rare double this week—he’ll play in Tuesday’s Nationwide Tour Pro-Am before jetting to Florida to compete this week at the Honda Classic.
Fran Quinn, who won last week’s Panama CLARO Championship, will try this week to equal Paul Stankowski’s 1996 record of winning on the Nationwide Tour one week and the PGA TOUR the next. Quinn is competing at the Honda Classic.