Honda Classic Preview
After several weeks of west coast play, the PGA Tour is returning to Florida this week for the Honda Classic.
Set at PGA National Golf Resort’s “The Champion” course, the venue is known to be a challenge for players, playing over 7,000 yards long and featuring the iconic “bear trap,” a nickname given to the difficult 15th, 16th and 17th hole stretch.
The Palm Beach Gardens setting has been the home of the event since 2007 and was redesigned by all-time great Jack Nicklaus in 2014.
Players can expect sunny skies and steady winds throughout the week, with forecasts predicting temperatures in the 80s with few clouds.
Sepp Straka won this tournament in 2022 to notch the first PGA Tour victory by an Austrian player. Straka hasn’t won since, but he’s ranked 31st in the world and is playing again this week for a chance at a title defense.
Jon Rahm triumphed at the Genesis Invitational last week for his fourth win in his last seven starts. However, neither Rahm nor any top-10 player in the Official World Golf ranking is teeing off this week.
Still, there are contenders to be found in the field.
Sungjae Im is the 2020 champ and, as of late, he’s been reliable. The South Korean finished T6 at the Phoenix Open and T4 at the Farmers, with passable results on larger stages than this. His world ranking of 18th is also the highest of any player in the field, giving the 24-year-old a decent chance this week at his third career win.
Billy Horschel is world-ranked No. 19, one back of Im. Although he’s had quieter results than others in recent weeks, Horschel is on no drought of success, having won the Memorial Tournament last summer. The win was his third since 2021, reason enough to believe he can get his 2023 back at a moment’s notice.
Shane Lowry also figures to be in the mix. Ranked No. 21 in the world, Lowry finished second at PGA National last year, just one shot shy of a playoff with Straka. He's also coming off a solid week at Riviera, finishing T14. After a strong fall that included winning the BMW PGA Championship on the DP Tour, the Irishman certainly can put himself in position to hoist another trophy this week.
Matt Kuchar is coming off a solo-eighth-place finish at the Genesis Invitational and notched another top-10 at the Sony Open last month. The 44-year-old Kuchar no longer appears to be a regular threat, but he’s shown he can still go low, making him hard to forget this week.
The Honda Classic begins Thursday. With many heavy hitters sitting out, the lesser-known names will look to capitalize on the opportunity for a win.
Logan Groeneveld-Meijer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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