Despite being the least prestigious title of this 12 months’s Florida Swing, this week’s Honda Classic will as soon as once more be contested over a format that’s the equal of any course internet hosting a match on the 2021 PGA Tour.
Designed by Tom and George Fazio, the Champion Course at PGA National stays probably the most testing venues on the calendar.
Opened in November 1981, the Champion format staged the Ryder Cup two years later, in addition to the PGA Championship of 1987.
And this would be the Fifteenth straight 12 months that PGA National, some 80 miles north of downtown Miami, can have hosted the Honda Classic.
Located at Palm Beach Gardens within the south of the state, the venue has undergone three Jack Nicklaus-led upgrades through the previous 20 years.
With water and sand a critical and fixed menace, a golfer might want to make use of his greatest course administration abilities to face any likelihood of lifting the trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Although timber and dense vegetation are briefly provide, it stays a course on which correct tee-to-green golf is rewarded, courtesy of its plentiful and strategic bunkering, together with sizeable water hazards on 13 holes.
Even although the fairways don’t seem like overly tight, the low-lying Champion Course requires stable ball-striking, whereas its Tifeagle Bermuda grass placing surfaces had been re-laid three years in the past.
The course is residence to the well-known ‘Bear Trap,’ which is three consecutive holes (Fifteenth-Sixteenth-Seventeenth) on the again 9, and named after native resident Jack Nicklaus.
On the tee
Owing to a PGA Tour schedule stuffed with prestigious occasions at the moment of 12 months, the sector for this week’s Honda Classic has suffered vastly.
Previously, the match had at all times been staged late February or early March, however has now been moved just a few weeks later within the rota – and it is made an enormous distinction to the entry record.
Not one member of the world’s prime 10 is teeing-up, leaving No 15 Daniel Berger because the highest-ranked golfer at PGA National.
Berger, who was born in Florida and nonetheless lives within the state, is a Tour winner already this 12 months and tied-ninth in The Players Championship on Sunday.
In-form Lee Westwood, who has simply returned to the world’s prime 20 for the primary time in a few years, continues to be among the many record of entries forward of Thursday’s opening spherical.
The 47-year-old’s busy latest schedule should have taken a heavy toll on his psychological stamina, particularly after lacking out by the narrowest of margins at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday.
Defending champion Sung Jae Im arrives on the again of a stable begin to the calendar 12 months, even when there’s an absence of top-10 finishes over the previous two months.
Yet historical past is towards the younger Korean, in addition to different former champions, as no winner at PGA National has triumphed on the venue greater than as soon as – though quite a few golfers have come mighty shut.
Course historical past tends to play much less of a job on the Champion Course, than at most different venues.
Tournaments, similar to these, present a superb alternative for first-time winners to emerge.
One in-form golfer chasing a maiden PGA Tour title is 29-year-old Talor Gooch who was fifth at Sawgrass on the weekend and is now a career-high No 64 on the planet.
Meanwhile, former PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley has proven some improved kind in latest weeks.
The 34-year-old presently stands seventh within the Strokes Gained: Approach the Green class, which is a powerful indicator for general stage of efficiency.
The identical applies to Russell Henley, though he must break with Honda custom and grow to be the primary two-time champion at PGA National.
Course Comparisons (1.1.16 – 31.12.20)
Driving Accuracy (%)
73.88: Sea Island (RSM Classic) (1/29)
61.87: PGA National (Honda Classic) (17/29)
52.24: Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance) (29/29)
Greens in Regulation (%)
75.98: Sedgefield (Wyndham) (1/29)
60.98: PGA National (Honda Classic) (26/29)
58.99: Innisbrook (Valspar) (29/29)
1.664: PGA West (host) (American Express) (1/29)
1.773: PGA National (Honda Classic) (25/29)
2.668: Augusta National (Masters) (29/29)
Key: Above stats are for all 29 programs which staged 4 or extra PGA Tour occasions between January 1st, 2016 and December thirty first, 2020. To qualify for a rating (between 1 & 29), tournaments should have a minimal of fifty gamers competing over the ultimate two rounds of the occasion. Averages don’t embody gamers who failed to finish at the least 54 holes.
PGA National Data (2016-20)
DA: (T10 – 65.56%); (Cat10 – 73.96%)
GiR: (T10 – 65.64%); (Cat10 – 69.98%)
Putts: (T10 – 1.743); (Cat10 – 1.663)
Key: T10 (Average for Top-10 finishers); Cat10 (Average for Top-10 in Category)
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves