The Honda Classic field is not nearly as stacked as last week’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera, where all ten of the top-10 ranked players in the OWGR teed it up. This week in Palm Beach, only six of the top-25 ranked players will be on hand, none of whom are ranked in the top-10.
It marks the second straight season with the field lacking a top-10 player.
In what must be frustrating to tournament organizers, many of the tour’s top names live in the area.
Tom D’Angelo, who writes for the Palm Beach Post, laid in to the local stars:
The Honda Classic could not be more conveniently located for Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.
Each of those players, all ranked in the top 10 in the world, live in northern Palm Beach County, all within a 10-20 minute drive to Honda’s home, PGA National. It’s an event they could play sleeping in their own beds, enjoying home-cooked meals and providing a nice boost for their local tournament.
Yet, none of those elite golfers who have relocated to the area to take advantage of the weather, world-class golf courses, restaurants – and most importantly, tax breaks – feel the need to give back one week of their time.
One week to the community that has given them everything they need to help them succeed at the highest level by playing in their hometown PGA Tour event.
Why The Honda continues to have weak fields, despite its convenient locale for the tour’s big names, appears to be threefold: money (a smaller purse), position on schedule (between two big money invitationals, and two weeks ahead of The Players), and course difficulty (one of the circuit’s toughest).
Thomas attempted to spin his time constraints, but D’Angelo pointed out JT’s light schedule:
“It’s a lot,” Thomas said. “There’s probably four or five tournaments I would love to play that are just not in a good part of the schedule. That’s just the way that it is.
“Unfortunately, you just got to take off sometimes and if I played that, it would be a lot of golf in a row and I really don’t need to be hating golf in the middle of February.”
Thomas played the last two weeks, the Phoenix Open and Genesis. Prior, he played twice since the first week of December. And he likely is not playing in the Palmer the week after Honda. He hasn’t played Bay Hill since 2015.
He will have played 16 rounds of competitive golf in a span of 94 days prior to The Players.
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