Pro Golf Weekly

The Honda Classic Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

With the West Coast Swing in the books, and the Mexico stop el done, the PGA Tour makes its way to the Sunshine State to kick off a new four-event Florida stretch, headlined by The PLAYERS Championship next week.

Rickie Fowler Honda Classic
Rickie Fowler tees off on the 4th hole during the third round of The Honda Classic at PGA National on Feb 25, 2017 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The first stop, though, will be in Palm Beach Gardens for The Honda Classic.

This year’s edition of The Honda brings a handful of top stars to PGA National, headlined by defending champion, and world No. 3, Justin Thomas, alongside top-10 ranked stars Brooks Koepka, and Rickie Fowler, the tournament’s 2017 champion.

Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren, and Gary Woodland are some of the other big names in the field.


THE SKINNY

Tournament: The Honda Classic
Dates: Feb 28 – Mar 3, 2019
Where: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Course: PGA National (Champions)
Distance: Par 70/7140 yards
Architect: George and Tom Fazio (1980)
Redesign: Jack Nicklaus (1990, 2002)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Purse: $6,800,000
Winning Share: $1,224,000
Points: 500 (FedExCup), 48 (OWGR)
Hashtag: #HondaClassic
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas
Other Marquee Names: Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren, Webb Simpson, and Adam Scott.


TV & ONLINE

Round 1: Thu 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6 pm (NBC)
Round 4: Sun 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6 pm (NBC)
Web | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Wikipedia


HISTORY

Beginning in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, the tournament that is now known as the Honda Classic, has been held exclusively in Florida, but has found difficulty in finding a permanent host course.

honda-classic-primer-jackie-gleason-president-ford
President Gerald Ford laughs with entertainer Jackie Gleason ahead of the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic Celebrities Golf Tournament on Feb 26, 1975, at the Inverrary CC in Hollywood, FL. Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Changing courses every 6.4 years on average, the Champion Course at PGA National Golf Course in Palm Beach Gardens has been the tournament’s location since 2007, with no imminent plans of another switch.

On Florida’s southeast coastline, roughly 80 miles north of Miami, it’s another exceptionally beautiful location with wonderful weather, perfect for February golf.

The inaugural tournament was won by Tom Weiskopf in 1972, who fought off Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke.

The tournament boasts big-name past winners like Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Kite, Vijay Singh, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, and Justin Thomas. Nicklaus, in addition to Johnny Miller, Mark Calcavecchia, and Padraig Harrington, are the only players with multiples victories at The Honda Classic – each with two apiece.

HISTORY: SPONSORS/NAMES

2002-19: The Honda Classic
1984-01: Honda Classic
1982-83: Honda Inverrary Classic
1981-81: American Motors Inverrary Classic
1974-80: Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic
1973-73: Jackie Gleason Inverrary-National Airlines Classic
1972-72: Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic

HISTORY: RECENT CHAMPIONS

2018: Justin Thomas
2017: Rickie Fowler
2016: Adam Scott
2015: Pádraig Harrington
2014: Russell Henley
2013: Michael Thompson
2012: Rory McIlroy

HISTORY: RECORDS

Wins:
2- Jack Nicklaus (1977, 1978)
2- Johnny Miller (1980, 1983)
2 – Mark Calcavecchia (1987, 1998)
2 – Pádraig Harrington (2005, 2015)

72-Hole Score:
264 (-24) – Justin Leonard (2003)


DEFENDING CHAMPION

With a birdie on the first playoff hole at famed PGA National, Justin Thomas edged Luke List to capture his second PGA Tour title of the season, and seventh over the past two seasons.

Justin Thomas Honda Classic 2018
Justin Thomas tees off on the par-3 15th hole during the final round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Champions Course on Feb 25, 2018 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

It was not easy, though, as it took everything Thomas had to grind out a 2-under 68 just to get into the overtime hole with the 54-hole leader List.

“It was very difficult for sure — it was really hard,” said Thomas. “It just was those last — the back nine, those last five holes, are so difficult.”

Thomas (68) and List (69) finished at 8-under par, one stroke ahead of Sweden’s Alex Noren and two ahead of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

FINAL TOP 5

1. Justin Thomas -8
2. Luke List -8
3. Alex Noren -7
4. Tommy Fleetwood -6
5. Byeong Hun-An -4
5. Webb Simpson -4


THE FIELD: OVERVIEW

The field this week at PGA National is headlined by Justin Thomas, the defending champion, along with fellow Honda winners Rickie Fowler (2017) and Adam Scott (2016).

Adam Scott Honda Classic
Adam Scott during the third round of The Honda Classic at the PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

Other top-ranked stars include Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Cameron Smith, Sergio Garcia, and Alex Noren.

In addition to Thomas, Fowler, and Scott, the field in Palm Beach Gardens, F-L-A also includes former champs in Padraig Harrington (2015, 2005) and Russell Henley (2014).

Daniel Berger, Emiliano Grillo, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Ernie Els, and Zach Johnson are some of the other familiar names.


THE FIELD: ODDS TO WIN

The field last week in Mexico included 28 of the world’s top-30 ranked players. This week, it’s not nearly as stout, as just eight of the top-30 will tee it up at PGA National’s Champions course.

Justin Thomas and Jimmy Johnson
Justin Thomas and caddie Jimmy Johnson talk on the 10th fairway during day three of The Honda Classic at PGA National on Feb 24, 2018 in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Three of those eight players, however, are three of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars in world No. 3 Justin Thomas, three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, and recent Phoenix winner Rickie Fowler.

As he was last week in Mexico, JT – the tournament’s defending champion, is the favorite at 5-1, with 2017 winner Fowler next at 10-1.

Koepka (12-1), Adam Scott (16-1), and Sergio Garcia (16-1) round out the top-5 favorites.

BET ON THE HONDA CLASSIC AT BOVADA

The Honda Classic | PGA National | Palm Beach Gardens, FL | Feb 28 – Mar 3, 2019


Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images


Jeff Smith

Jeff is a writer and content producer for Pro Golf Weekly. He is working on a book, documenting the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the major golf tours.

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