With seven of the OWGR’s top 10 in the Honda Classic field this week, plenty of buzz surrounds PGA National – and Rory McIlroy needed a 63 to climb to the top of the leaderboard Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Tiger Woods helped get the day started with a 71, beginning his week on the slow side at 1 over. William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini were the best of the morning groups at 5 under, but McIlroy bested them by two shots and Russell Henley shot 64. Jamie Donaldson matched McGirt and Sabbatini at 65
Recap the round’s highlights right here.
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Update No. 19: 6:12 p.m. EST
Let’s take another look at the players who are in the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings:
- 1. Tiger Woods: T-81, 1 over (71)
- 3. Adam Scott:
- 4. Sergio Garcia: T-102, 2 over (72)
- 9. Henrik Stenson: T-122, 3 over (73)
- 11. Charl Schwartzel: T-133, 4 over (74)
- 12. Zach Johnson: T-11, 3 under (67)
- 13. Hideki Matsuyama: T-57, even (70)
- 15. Phil Mickelson: T-57, even (70)
- 20. Lee Westwood: T-21, 2 under (68)
- 21. Rory McIlroy: Leader, 7 under (63)
- 22. Brendon Todd: T-81, 1 over (71)
- 24. Keegan Bradley: T-30, 1 under (69)
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Update No. 18: 5:47 p.m. EST
Matt Every’s first bogey of the day comes at No. 16 with a long three-putt. That drops him to 4 under and T-6 with three to play. He follows with a par.
Leader Rory McIlroy avoided a long three-putt earlier at No. 11 with a 45-footer that he sank for one of his seven birdies during the round (mobile readers can see the video here).
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Update No. 17: 5:31 p.m. EST
Russell Henley finishes a bogey-free day with pars at Nos. 6-9 for a 64 that has him one shot back of leader Rory McIlroy, one ahead of T-3 group Jamie Donaldoson, Matt Every, William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini. Henley did most of his damage for the day with birdies at Nos. 1-4 and 6.
Phil Mickelson, by the way, wrapped up his round with eight straight pars for an even-par 70 that has him T-58. Mickelson had 15 pars in all against two birdies and a double bogey.
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Update No. 16: 5:19 p.m. EST
A birdie at 18 gets Adam Scott to 2 under for his day with a 68, good for T-19 as he heads in.
And climbing the leaderboard is Matt Every, with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13-14 lifting him to 5 under; he follows with a par to remain two back of Rory McIlroy’s lead and T-3 with three others.
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Update No. 15: 5:05 p.m. EST
A birdie at No. 5 lifts Russell Henley to the outright lead, and he follows with two pars to remain 6 under. Rory McIlroy catches Henley with a birdie at the 17th.
At the par-5 18th, McIlroy reaches a greenside bunker in two and wedges it out to about 5 feet; his birdie putt is on the mark and he takes the lead outright at 7 under with a 63.
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Update No. 14: 4:18 p.m. EST
Adam Scott falls four back of the lead with bogeys at Nos. 14-15, the latter after hitting his tee shot in the water at the par 3 then wedging it close from the drop area. Mark Wilson drops from the lead after a bogey at No. 13, leaving four co-leaders at 5 under: Russell Henley, William McGirt, Rory McIlroy and Rory Sabbatini.
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Update No. 13: 4:04 p.m. EST
After a 32 on the front, Mark Wilson birdies Nos. 10 and 12 to move to 5 under and tie for the lead with Russell Henley, William McGirt, Rory McIlroy and Rory Sabbatini. Henley needs to take off a shoe and sock to hit from the water near the No. 3 green to inside 10 feet, then two-putts for par.
Adam Scott birdies again to move to 3 under, thanks to a big drive at No. 13 and a tight wedge approach. He’s just two back of the co-leaders.
Rickie Fowler has had an interesting path to 1 under and T-29 through 12 holes, with a birdie at No. 3, bogeys at Nos. 6-7 and birdies again at Nos. 8-9. Fowler’s coming off a hot performance at the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
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Update No. 12: 3:48 p.m. EST
Since his hot start, co-leader Russell Henley has run off five straight pars to remain 5 under and tied with William McGirt, Rory McIlroy and Rory Sabbatini.
Phil Mickelson is back at even par thanks to a birdie at No. 10 and two pars that followed.
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Update No. 11: 3:36 p.m. EST
Rory McIlroy hits one close at the par-4 12th and sinks the putt to can his third straight birdie since the turn move into a share of the lead at 5 under, tied with Russell Henley, William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini. Henley has already run off a highlight reel during his front nine (mobile readers can see the video here).
Adam Scott gets his third birdie of the day in fairway-green-20 footer fashion at No. 11 and is 2 under, T-19 and three back of the trio sharing the lead.
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Update No. 10: 3:17 p.m. EST
Co-leader Russell Henley’s third straight par comes at the 18th as he makes the turn tied with William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini atop the leaderboard.
With back-to-back birdies at Nos. 10-11 after making the turn, Rory McIlroy is avenging last year’s WD here and is just one shot back of the lead at 4 under, tied with five others on that mark.
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Update No. 9: 3:03 p.m. EST
With such a strong field this week, let’s check in on players who are in the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings:
- 1. Tiger Woods: T-84, 1 over (71)
- 3. Adam Scott: T-30, 1 under through nine
- 4. Sergio Garcia: T-113, 2 over (72)
- 9. Henrik Stenson: T-128, 3 over (73)
- 11. Charl Schwartzel: T-135, 4 over (74)
- 12. Zach Johnson: T-9, 3 under (67)
- 13. Hideki Matsuyama: T-55, even (70)
- 15. Phil Mickelson: T-84, 1 over through eight
- 20. Lee Westwood: T-55, even through seven
- 21. Rory McIlroy: T-17, 2 under through nine
- 22. Brendon Todd: T-84, 1 over (71)
- 24. Keegan Bradley: T-28, 1 under (69)
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Update No. 8: 2:51 p.m. EST
Co-leader Russell Henley gets up and down at the par-3 17th to remain 5 under. Other afternoon players have had trouble going lower than 3 under, with Jamie Donaldson and Peter Hanson on that mark.
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Update No. 7: 2:39 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson runs into trouble after missing the green at the par-3 seventh hole, needing two chips and two putts to get in for a double bogey. That drops him to 1 over, T-82 alongside Tiger Woods.
Co-leader Russell Henley pars the 16th to remain 5 under through seven holes, tied with William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini.
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Update No. 6: 2:19 p.m. EST
Russell Henley’s birdie streak ends at the fifth hole, but the former Georgia Bulldog starts a new one at the par-3 sixth to tie for the lead just a third of the way through his round. Henley finished T-13 here last year.
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Update No. 5: 2:02 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are both off to 1-under starts through five holes, each birdieing the par-5 third hole. The reigning Open Championship and Masters champions, respectively, are in back-to-back groups today.
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Update No. 4: 1:44 p.m. EST
Russell Henley, who won last year’s Sony Open, starts his round with four straight birdies to climb quickly to T-3. The former Georgia Bulldog is among four players a shot back of co-leaders William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini.
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Update No. 3: 1:29 p.m. EST
Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 2-3 get Rory McIlroy off to a good start, 2 under and T-14. Already, it’s quite a contrast to last year, when he WD’d in the second round.
Coming off a respectable showing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Sergio Garcia ambles to a 2-over 72 that has him T-101, but still showing a positive attitude on Twitter.
@TheSergioGarcia: “One of those days where I couldn’t get it going. Better one tomorrow! Un mal dia hoy. Mañana intentaremos hacerlo mejor!”
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Update No. 2: 1:17 p.m. EST
William McGirt’s birdie-par finish lifts him to a share of the lead as he signs for a 65 to match Rory Sabbatini. One shot back and all having finished their rounds are Brendon de Jonge, Derek Ernst and Tommy Gainey. Nine players are two shots back at 3 under, with Luke Donald, Brian Harman, Zach Johnson and Will MacKenzie in the clubhouse.
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Update No. 1: 12:53 p.m. EST
Co-leader Rory Sabbatini pars his final three holes to finish with the first 65 of the day at 5 under. That’s even with William McGirt, who’s on no. 9 to wrap up his day, and one shot ahead of Brendon de Jonge, Derek Ernst and Tommy Gainey.
Derek Ernst wraps up a 66 with a birdie at the 18th. The UNLV product looking for his first win since last year’s Wells Fargo Championship, got his week off to a good start with an eagle at the third hole (mobile readers can see the video here).
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No. 9: Par 4, 421 yards
At T-64 with the afternoon groups just getting started, Tiger could use a birdie here to avoid too much of a challenge tomorrow in making the cut.
• Off the tee: Flirting with a couple of fairway bunkers, Tiger finds the right edge of the short grass with his drive here.
• Approach shot: Nice shot here gets Tiger to birdie range, closer than at the seventh and probably about 10 feet.
• On the green: Could be a big putt here to set the stage for how Tiger has to handle the cut line tomorrow. He rolls it in for a high note to finish the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 71, 1 over (T-54)
• Elsewhere on the course: Among the lead pack, Brendon de Jonge is first to get to the clubhouse. His 66 has him T-2, one shot back of Rory Sabbatini. Meanwhile, Luke Donald is the first to sign for a 67. Zach Johnson matches Donald’s 67 by finishing strong, our Adam Schupak notes via @GolfweekSchupak: “A birdie finish for @ZachJohnsonPGA. Shoots 67 after 8 on his 2nd hole of the day when he hit 2 in the water.”
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No. 8: Par 4, 427 yards
Tiger has to again feel like he missed a scoring opportunity. He’s got two par 4s left if he’s to put a positive note on the end of this round.
• Off the tee: Fairway here, again favoring the left as he has often during this back nine.
• Approach shot: Another misfire from the fairway for Tiger, his first in a while, leaves him with some work to do from the rough.
• On the green: Tiger chips to about 10 feet or so – and again cannot convert the putt. It’s his third hole over par for this nine and drops him to T-64.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 2 over (thru 17)
• Elsewhere on the course: A snowman is rare in Florida, but Zach Johnson cards one at the par-4 No. 11 hole to start his day on the wrong foot. But snowmen do melt – as our Adam Schupak points out via his Twitter account, @GolfweekSchupak: “there is no quit in Zach who has battled back with 6 birdies since early snowman.” He’s 2 under, T-7, through 16 holes.
Among the leaders, Tommy Gainey bogeys for the second time in three holes to drop to 4 under, T-2 alongside Brendon de Jonge and William McGirt, a shot back of leader Rory Sabbatini.
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No. 7: Par 3, 226 yards
Par is a good way to steady oneself after a bogey, but there are only three more chances for Tiger to get back under par.
• Off the tee: Chalk up a third straight green in regulation for Tiger, with the shots getting progressively closer to the pin – he’ll have about 15 feet or so for a birdie try here.
• On the green: The putt for birdie just misses, and Tiger taps in for another par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 16)
• Elsewhere on the course: Another birdie for Tommy Gainey again gives him the lead outright at 5 under, but Rory Sabbatini quickly catches him with a birdie of his own.
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No. 6: Par 4, 479 yards
Four holes left to see if Tiger can get back under par for his first round, with the lead at 5 under.
• Off the tee: Left edge for Tiger here, flirting with the water hazard.
• On the approach: Tiger finds the green again, and a bit more than 20 feet once again as well. Hard to think he’ll three-putt twice in a row, right?
• On the green: Textbook par for Tiger, as his birdie putt rolls a couple of feet past and he sinks the comebacker.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 15)
• Elsewhere on the course: William McGirt gets to 4 under through 12, thanks to an eagle at No. 3. McGirt contended at the Northern Trust Open a couple of weeks ago. That’s good for a share of the lead alongside Brendon de Jonge, Tommy Gainey and Rory Sabbatini.
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No. 5: Par 3, 217 yards
Missed opportunity there for Tiger after a big drive, and not the first today. He’ll likely need better iron play at this par-3 over water if he’s to get under par again.
• Off the tee: Finding the green, Tiger hits it to about 25 feet or so. He’ll take another run at a birdie.
• On the green: Tiger runs his birdie putt past the hole a good 5 feet – then misses the comebacker. He slips over par for the second time on this nine, and at six back of the lead will need some scoring down the stretch to be considered “lurking.”
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 14)
• Elsewhere on the course: As Tommy Gainey holds steady as a co-leader, Brendon de Jonge bogeys the 16th as Rory Sabbatini birdies the 12th. The number to shoot for is still 4 under. Gainey then birdies the par-5 third hole to move to 5 under and take the lead outright with six to play.
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No. 4: Par 4, 395 yards
A much-needed birdie erases half of Tiger’s troubles at No. 2, despite a second-straight miss left with his drive; we’ll see if he can get that straightened out down the stretch, as the tee ball was reliable earlier.
• Off the tee: Tiger, indeed, finds the fairway here and should have wedge in.
• Approach shot: Missing left, Tiger’s in the short grass but off the green.
• Around the green: Tiger rolls it to just inside 5 feet, then sinks his putt for par. Still four back of the lead, which belongs to Tommy Gainey and Rory Sabbatini.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 13)
• Elsewhere on the course: A popular pick to do well this week, Charl Schwartzel is 2 over through 12 holes, with a birdie and three bogeys – the latest coming at the par-4 12th.
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No. 3: Par 5, 538 yards
Tiger didn’t show his trademark scrambling ability on that last hole, but he could atone for the mistake quickly on this par 5.
• Off the tee: Missing left again, Tiger hits it long enough that he is in range to get home in two, depending how he feels about his his lie and line.
• On the approach: You’d expect Tiger to get aggressive here in the wake of that double bogey, and indeed he goes for the green in two from the rough. He finds the left-side rough at the green, from where an up-and-down could get him back to even par.
• Around the green: A good chip from the rough gets Tiger to about 5 feet for birdie – and he sinks the putt to get himself back to even par and T-25.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 12)
• Elsewhere on the course: Keegan Bradley bogeys the second hole to drop to T-5 at 2 under through 11 holes.
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No. 2: Par 4, 464 yards
Tiger has done fine off the tee today, but isn’t getting the ball close enough to the hole to give himself good looks at birdies thus far. He remains three shots off the lead.
• Off the tee: Uh-oh, a yanked 3-wood here for Tiger, as he hits the trees on the left and still has more than 200 yards left into the green.
• Approach shot: This has gotten difficult. Tiger pitches out but only reaches the rough – and his third-shot approach finds a greenside bunker. He’ll need a sand save for bogey.
• Around the green: From the bunker, Tiger finds the green but leaves himself more than 10 feet for bogey. His putt just misses and he taps in for an unlikely double bogey that drops him to T-43 – and over par for the first time today.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 11)
• Elsewhere on the course: Brendon de Jonge and Tommy Gainey are your co-leaders at 4 under through 14 and nine holes, respectively. A shot back are Keegan Bradley, Derek Ernst and Rory Sabbatini.
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No. 1: Par 4, 365 yards
A solid front nine from Tiger, hitting 5 of 7 fairways, 6 of 9 greens in regulation and needing 14 putts. He’s currently three shots back of Brendon de Jonge, who is 4 under through 12 holes.
• Off the tee: No need for driver here, but Tiger’s safety tee ball (with iron) still finds the right rough.
• Approach shot: Tiger finds another green in regulation, but will have 25 feet for birdie.
• On the green: Tiger can’t get the long birdie putt to drop and he picks up his ninth par of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 10)
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No. 18: Par 5, 556 yards
Another all-world save from Tiger on No. 17, but will now need to take advantage of his first par 5 of the day to make the turn with some momentum.
• Off the tee: Driver again here for Tiger, and he splits the middle of the fairway. Has looked very good with driver today.
• Second shot: With more than 260 yards left into the green, Tiger overcooks it a bit and finds greenside sand.
• Around the green: Nice bunker shot here leaves Tiger with about 8 feet for his first birdie.
• On the green: Tiger finally gets one to drop and he’s now T-10 and two shots off the lead.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 under (thru 9)
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No. 17: Par 3, 190 yards
That was a big save for Tiger at No. 16, staying within three shots of the early lead.
• Off the tee: Tiger won’t be happy with this one, as he’ll need to scramble again after finding a bunker behind the hole.
• Around the green: Very tough bunker shot here, but Tiger plays it perfectly and leaves himself about 5 feet to save par.
• On the green: And he drains the putt to remain even on the round. Eight consecutive pars to start his day and now heads to the only par 5 on the back.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 8)
• • •
No. 16: Par 4, 434 yards
Tiger is playing a bit better than his score currently shows, as his work off the tee has been impressive. He only has one one-putt thus far, and that’ll need to change to post a red number today.
• Off the tee: Tiger decides to hit iron here and he yanks it left and into the gallery. First poor swing of the day.
• Approach shot: Tiger settles in the rough on the far side of the cart path, gets a good lie and finds the fairway in front of the green, clearing the water with ease.
• Around the green: Tiger has a tough pitch, but manages to get it all the way to the hole and settles less than 2 feet from the hole. Another par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 7)
• • •
No. 15: Par 3, 179 yards
Tiger now heads to the Bear Trap, playing solid golf outside of the short birdie miss on No. 13.
• Off the tee: Tiger gets his tee ball over the water, and barely finds the far left edge of the green.
• Around the green: This is two-putt territory, and Tiger does a nice job of saving par from about 45 feet.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 6)
• Elsewhere on the course: Playing with Tiger, Keegan Bradley has picked up two birdies through six holes and is just a shot off the very early pace. It hasn’t been as pretty for Zach Johnson – also playing with Tiger – as he is 3 over through six holes.
• • •
No. 14: Par 4, 465 yards
A missed opportunity at No. 13 for Tiger, but did fire at a pin and might be able to do more of that with the wet greens.
• Off the tee: Takes driver again here and finds the left side of the fairway. He’s looking comfortable with the big stick thus far.
• Approach shot: Tiger gets his approach pin high, but then the spin takes it back down a tier and about 30 feet from the hole.
• On the green: Another birdie putt comes up short and he has to make a 3-footer to save par, which he does.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 5)
• • •
No. 13: Par 4, 388 yards
A fourth consecutive par 4 to open the round for Tiger. His play off the tee looks sharp thus far, but his putter is a bit erratic.
• Off the tee: A 3-wood here again and he just finds the edge of the first cut of right rough. A missed fairway, but in good position.
• Approach shot: A really nice wedge shot here to about 6 feet for his first good look at birdie.
• On the green: Tiger’s birdie attempt lips out on the left and he settles for a disappointing par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 4)
• • •
No. 12: Par 4, 438 yards
The pace of play today is definitely sluggish, as Tiger’s group has had to wait multiple times in their opening two holes.
• Off the tee: Tiger rips a driver here that catches the right-center of the fairway. That’s three fairways hit to open the round.
• Approach shot: Wedge here and Tiger sends it to the back of the green.
• Around the green: From the fringe, Tiger putts for birdie and sends it 3 feet past and settles for another par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 3)
• • •
No. 11: Par 4, 450 yards
Speed on the greens will take some adjusting today due to the wet weather, which might take some time to adjust to for the field.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes 3-wood here and puts it in the fairway.
• Approach shot: Tiger hits another solid shot into the green here, giving himself 20 feet for birdie.
• On the green: Leaves it short again and settles for a tap-in par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 2)
• • •
No. 10: Par 4, 508 yards
It’s going to be a slow slog today with overnight rain. They’ll be playing lift, clean and replace on the fairways.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes his opening tee ball right over a fairway bunker and finds the fairway.
• Approach shot: Gets this one to about pin high and 20 feet right of the cup.
• On the green: Tiger’s birdie attempt over a small ridge comes up short and he settles for a par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 1)
• • •
While traditionally playing both Doral and Bay Hill prior to the Masters, Tiger Woods has added the Honda Classic this year and hinted that he might add one more prior to his date with Augusta National.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Jason Allred, picking up a third-place finish at the Northern Trust Open, a third child that was born on Monday and winding down with a pressure-packed tee time this week at the Honda Classic.
The last time Phil Mickelson played at PGA National he was a junior, and the last time he played the Honda Classic, it was 2002, and he had yet to win a major.
Louis Oosthuizen has withdrawn for the Honda Classic due to the recurring back injury that has plagued the South African for months.
Our Jeff Rude comments on Steve Elkington’s unfortunate Twitter posts on NFL prospect Michael Sam, while also reading between the lines on Sergio Garcia’s claim on conceding a long putt at the Ryder Cup.
Scott Piercy will undergo surgery on his right arm on Thursday, likely putting him on the sidelines for 3-4 months.
Good-good at the Ryder Cup? Why not? Sergio Garcia said Tuesday at the Honda Classic that, presented the same circumstances he faced at Dove Mountain, he’d still give Rickie Fowler the 18-footer he conceded on the seventh hole of their third-round match.
Tiger Woods returns to competition on the PGA Tour as the co-favorite at the Honda Classic at PGA National along with 2012 Honda champion Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Brooks Koepka are three names mentioned often among the expert picks to win or contend at this week’s Honda Classic on PGA Tour. Conspicuously absent? Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.