The Honda Classic tees off Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The event has a handful of top-rated players in the field with Justin Thomas heavily favored. Thomas went from No. 4 to the No. 3 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings list just in time for the Classic. His +450 is well above the other names in the top-five with Rickie Fowler being the closest to him.
Thomas finished 9th during the WGC Mexico event last weekend going nine-under for the tournament. Fowler ended even with Branden Grace. Out of the top-five players listed below, was Sergio Garcia who gave the winner of the WGC Mexico a run for the money last week. Dustin Johnson won with Garcia finishing T6 with Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Smith.
But Thomas is returning to the PGA National Golf Club as the defending Champion. Last year he and Luke List finished the tournament in a playoff. Thomas finished 272 overall going eight-under. The two players seemed to put on a long drive contest on the 18th hole where they remained tied forcing the one-hole playoff. Thomas won his second event of 2018 by carding a birdie after List went wide off the tee. During the weekend Thomas made 51 birdie or pars while scoring a 65 during the third round.
Speaking of Luke List
The Dark Horse pick may be Luke List. The former Vanderbilt Commodore played the PGA National Gulf Club well last year and has strung together several successful outings so far in the 2019 season. Has finished T4 twice this season and is now ranked 55 in FedEx points.
Thus far in 2019, he’s 5th on the PGA Tour in driving distance while closing in on a 60% mark when hitting fairways. He’s also marching towards breaking into the top-fifty players on the Official World Golf Rankings. A return to the Honda Classic may be what List needs to score his first PGA Tour win and break his habit of being runner up.
Most Recent Past Winners
Justin Thomas may be the defending champ at the Classic but it was Rickie Fowler who won in 2017. After winning the Phoenix Open a few weeks ago it seems that Fowler is already poised to earn his second win this season. Fowler is the second favored golfer to win outright this weekend according to Intertops. Here’s a look at the last twelve winners of the Classic since it moved to the PGA National in 2007.
* Pádraig Harrington is the only repeat winner out of the players listed above. His first win at the Honda Classic was in 2005. However, that win came at the Championship Course at the Country Club of Mirasol.
The Champion Course at the PGA National Golf Club by the Numbers
The PGA National Golf Club is the home of the Professional Golfer’s Association of America and boasts five Championship level 18-hole courses and everything else you would imagine when it comes to a PGA venue. The courses are The Champion, The Fazio, The Squire, The Palmer, and The Estate.
The Champion course is the host of the Honda Classic and was in 1981 and designed by George and Tom Fazio with Jack Nicklaus providing a redesign later. In 2002 the course underwent a 4-million dollar renovation. The course has an open feel to it with several open fairways which allow for coastal breezes to sometimes play havoc with tee-shots.
The signature hole on the course can be considered the three-hole stretch often called “the Bear Trap” in honor of Nicklaus and his crafty re-design. The tough stretch of holes includes the par-3 15th, par-4 16th, and par-3 17th which include tough shots, small greens, plenty of bunkers, and intimidating water hazards. Here’s what Nicklaus said about the boring No. 15 hole after his redesign.
“It was sort of a nothing little hole, and when we brought the water in play, all of a sudden it became a monster and it's only a monster because of the awkward wind there that sort of comes into you, right-to-left, and you have to sort of cut into it or if you get it hooking it sweeps across the green. I was either lucky or stupid enough to do it the way I did it, whichever way it was. But it turned out to be a really interesting little golf hole.”
Additional renovations were done in 2014 as more bunkers and water hazards were added.
Founded: 1981 Designer: George, Tom Fazio Jack Nicklaus Yardage: 7,048 Par: 72 Rating: 75.2 Slope: 148 Greens: Bermuda grass.
TV Coverage for 2019 Honda Classic
• Thursday: 2:00-6:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Friday: 2:00-6:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Saturday: 1:00-3:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Saturday: 3:00-6:00 pm ET – NBC • Sunday: 1:00-3:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Sunday: 3:00-6:00 pm ET – NBC • Featured groups and holes streaming via PGA Tour Live.