Once an TOUR afterthought, The Honda Classic has experienced a renaissance with one of the deepest fields in the world. PGA National Champion Course serves as the backdrop, and get ready to hear plenty about the "Bear Trap" this week. As the name implies, Jack Nicklaus did the redesign here back in 1990, and the 15th, 16th and 17th holes provide quite the test.
The par-70 layout has played as long as 7,240 yards in 2007 and as short as 7,110 the last two years. It features just two par 5s and four very difficult par 3s.
While the origins of this tournament date back to 1972, PGA National has only hosted this event since 2007. Since that time, here are the winners and runners-up:
- 2007 - Mark Wilson (275) over Jose Coceres, Camilo Villegas and Boo Weekly in a playoff.
- 2008 - Ernie Els (274) over Luke Donald (275)
- 2009 - Y.E. Yang (271) over John Rollins (272)
- 2010 - Camilo Villegas (267) over Anthony Kim (272)
- 2011 - Rory Sabbatini (271) over Y.E. Yang (272)
- 2012 - Rory McIlroy (268) over Tom Gillis and Tiger Woods (270)
- 2013 - Michael Thompson (271) over Geoff Ogilvy (273)
Looking back at the stats over the past few season, a combination of GIR and strokes gained-putting seems to prove relevant. I would also recommend par 3 scoring as a metric to study. Because the score relative to par tends to be higher than most, favor ball-striking over putting since there are plenty of "traps" out there for errant shots. While it's a little less black and white, take a look at solid bunker players as well.
We will return tomorrow with some power rankings after sorting through what should be the deepest field of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season to date. And yes, that includes both of the WGCs already in the books.
Until then, happy research!