Thursday a Tiger and Bear tale at PGA NationalMarch 01, 2012
David Wood, Special to PGATOUR.COM
As Tiger Woods warmed-up on the range prior to his 12:30 p.m. tee time at The Honda Classic, there was little doubt whom the hundreds of spectators lining the fence were there to see. The positive comments were unanimous.
"We only came to see Tiger," said Mallory Johnson of Delray Beach. "It's very exciting that he lives nearby."
"I've never been to a golf tournament before, but when Tiger entered I bought tickets for the entire week," said Ralph Belvins of West Palm Beach.
Ben Miller, a Canadian gentleman from Toronto who vacations at PGA National each winter, said, "I hope he wins. It's fantastic he's playing in this event now that he's a local."
WHAT: The Honda Classic (www.hondaclassic.com)
WHERE: PGA National Resort and Spa (www.pgaresort.com)
WHEN: Feb.27 through Mar. 4
And when Tiger was introduced on the first tee as "from Jupiter Island" the welcoming roar was significantly louder than that of the other players. The Honda Classic is now a home game for the winner of 14 major titles.
There was also quite a bit of "Bear" talk on the manicured grounds of PGA National as the "Bear Trap" -- holes 15-17 -- must be negotiated successfully for any hope of holding the trophy come Sunday. In last year's Honda Classic, the industrial-strength trifecta lived up to its billing as No. 15, a par 3 of 179 yards, tallied 60 balls in the water. The 434-yard, par-4 16th gobbled up 25. Number 17, a 205-yard par 3, was a watery grave for 65 more balls bringing the grand total to 150 -- the most ever for the event.
"There's a pretty good reason they call it the Bear Trap because if it doesn't get you one way, it's going to get you another," said 2011 champion Rory Sabbatini. "It definitely caused some stress for me."
When asked about the Bear Trap, course designer Jack Nicklaus said "It's not about length, it's about precision. It's about guts. It's all about what do you have in your chest that you can finish those holes."
"On Sunday when the pin is in the back right on No. 17, this is the hardest hole we play on TOUR," according to Robert Allenby, known as one of the best ball strikers on the PGA TOUR.
Jesper Parnevik agrees with Allenby: "No. 17 is one of the hardest holes we play."
Boo Weekley might have best summed up the Bear Trap as only he can, "It's the good, the bad and the ugly. It's one of the hardest three-hole stretches on TOUR."
To test your own game against The Champion Course and its Bear Trap, PGA National offers several golf stay and play packages. Visit http://www.pgaresort.com/ to learn more.