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Golf: The Honda Classic Preview

After the dramatic weather and slippery greens of Riviera, PGA Tour players will be jumping at the chance to get to the warmer conditions of Florida when the Tour moves to The Honda Classic this week. Rory McIlroy has traditionally been the star of The Honda Classic, and he marks his return to the PGA Tour for the first time since the FedEx Cup playoffs with another attempt to conquer PGA National.

Here’s more on The Honda Classic:

The Course

The PGA National (Champion) course in Palm Beach, Florida is a 7,140 yard, par 70 course created by George & Tom Fazio.  The course hosted the 1983 Ryder Cup and has since hosted 19 Senior PGA Championships.  This year sees four greens reshaped and fairway adjustments around the “Bear Trap” (holes 15, 16, 17).

The Sound Bites

“I’ve got more experience at it. I’ve spent well over a year of my career at world No. 1, so I’m pretty used to it by now” – Rory McIlroy sounds an ominous warning to the rest of the field.  He’s comfortable being number one.

“I can putt as great as possible back home, but until you come out on Thursday … it won’t matter. It’s the one area that I was not overly concerned with in the offseason. It was just the one area that let me down the first couple of weeks, but it’s a long season” – Phil Mickelson hopes to improve his putting this week at an event he missed the cut in last season.

The Defending Champion

Last year’s tournament was Rory McIroy’s to lose.  And he did.  Rory made double bogey on 16, bone on 17 to shoot a final round 74 an open the door for Russell Henley to win in a four man playoff.  McIlroy wasn’t playing particularly well at the time so this year will be a much tougher assignment for the field to keep him out of the winners circle.

Henley carded a 72, to get into the playoff and then outlasted Rory, Ryan Plamer and Russell Knox.

The Contenders*

Rory McIlroy – $4.50

Dustin Johnson – $17.00

Justin Rose – $23.00

Sergio Garcia – $26.00

Martin Kaymer – $26.00

Justin Thoms – $51.00

Daniel Berger – $101.00

*The Honda Classic odds courtesy of Sportsbet.

The Winner

Rory McIlroy won here in 2012, lost in a playoff in 2014, won everything last year and is quite simply the best player on the planet.  He’s an overwhelming favourite at just $4.50 which is crazy low for a golf tournament.  But it is his first start in USA since September so we’ve thrown the others in the mix too.

DJ is in a nice space after his self-imposed exile.  He’s playing for the fourth straight week and already has two top 5’s.  Not that handy on the PGA National course though.

Justin Rose has top fives in last three visits here, and Lee Westwood is 5 for 5 in cuts made at the Honda.  Nonetheless, we’re with Rory.

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