Pro Golf Weekly

3 Up, 3 Down: The Honda Classic

Justin Thomas shot a final-round 2-under 68 at PGA National to capture the 2018 Honda Classic. The reigning PGA Champion birdied the 18th hole to join Luke List in a sudden-death playoff, and then birdied the same hole in the first overtime to capture his second title of the young season.

The victory moved the 24-year old Thomas to No. 3 in the world, one ahead of best friend and rival Jordan Spieth, who dropped to No. 4.

With that, let’s take a look at three players who impressed, and three who disappointed, during Sunday’s final round.


THREE UP

1. JUSTIN THOMAS

Justin Thomas had finished T22 or better in all six of his season starts coming into this event, but aside from his win at the CJ Cup in South Korea last October, he had been relatively underwhelming compared to the early standard he set in 2017.

“This definitely takes the pressure off me. I want to be more consistent this year and I want to have more chances to win,” said Thomas.

“I was four holes away from probably winning Phoenix. You know, one round away from having a great chance to win L.A. and the Sony, just a cold putter away from having a great chance to win that.

“Kapalua, I wasn’t really close. Actually I wasn’t remotely close (laughter). I was a little rusty there.

“But I’ve been happy with how consistent I’ve been, but without any wins, I’m constantly being reminded. It’s nice to get it a little bit off my back.”

With the win, Thomas ties Patton Kizzire for the most victories (2) in the new season, and now reaches eight career wins in just 101 starts, matching Jordan Spieth.

1 (-8, 67-72-65-68)


2. LUKE LIST

Luke List entered Sunday’s final round paired with one of the game’s two or three brightest young stars in Thomas. Many expected List to collapse under the bright lights of Sunday’s final group.

After List made a pair of early bogeys on 3 and 4, it seemed like those projections would play out. But the 33-year old hung in there and gained two back on 11 and 13 to move back into a tie for the lead at 7-under par.

Despite all the predictions of failure, List did himself proud, and on the 72nd hole it was Thomas (No. 4) who needed a near-perfect approach to meet the then World No. 124 List in a playoff.

The runner-up finish moved List inside the top 100 (No. 73) in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career.

2 (-8, 71-66-66-69)


3. TIGER WOODS

The Honda Classic was the third stop in the Tiger Woods comeback tour, after the 42-year-old legend missed a full year with back trouble.

PGA National had not been super kind to Tiger in the past, but this week’s tournament represented his best finish since returning to competitive golf. Tiger reached 3-under par, both for the day and the tournament, through 14 holes, but became the most notable victim of the famed “Bear Trap” when he double-bogeyed 15 and then bogeyed 16.

An even-par 70 meant an even-par week and a 12th place finish for Woods, who was playing for the second consecutive week, and again, showed no signs of physical pain.

Tiger finished with just 7 bogeys for the entire week, while not carding more than two in a single round.

T8 (-2, 71-72-69-66)


THREE DOWN

1. WEBB SIMPSON

After a bogey-free front nine, Webb Simpson was firmly in the leader mix, holding a co-lead before three bogeys in a four-hole stretch, on 11, 12, and 14 pushed the former U.S. Open winner down into a tie for fifth place.

Simpson’s three Sunday bogeys in his 2-over 72 represented 50% of the just six bogeys he had for the week.

T5 (-4, 66-72-66-72)


2. JAMIE LOVEMARK

Jamie Lovemark, a former Web.com Tour star looking for his first win in the big leagues, struggled in the same stretch as Simpson, carding bogeys on Nos. 10, 11, and 14 to match Webb’s 2-over 72.

The 7th place finish was the second top 10 of the year for the long-hitting 30-year-old Lovemark.

7 (-3, 68-69-68-72)


3. HUDSON SWAFFORD

Hudson Swafford

The biggest Sunday drop came from Hudson Swafford who, in spite of three birdies, still posted a 10-over 80, to tumble 53 spots down the leaderboard, from T11 to T64.

Swafford endured a brutal front-nine stretch, from holes 2-8, with five bogeys, a double, and a triple bogey. His tee-to-green game was an absolute nightmare, losing 6.2 strokes to the field in that area alone.

T64 (+10, 73-69-68-80)


Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images


Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.

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