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    • Monday Finish: And the Oscar goes to ...

      In honor of last night's Academy Awards, digital producer D.J. Piehowski (our resident movie buff) presents an Oscars-like recap of The Honda Classic.

    • Rory McIlroy carded a memorable 74 on Sunday, nearly winning with an eagle on the 72nd hole. (Franklin/Getty Images)Rory McIlroy carded a memorable 74 on Sunday, nearly winning with an eagle on the 72nd hole. (Franklin/Getty Images)

    Sunday was a good day for me.

    The Honda Classic is one of my favorite events of the year and I’m not ashamed to admit that the Academy Awards is one of my favorite TV evenings, as well. So, without further delay, here’s a special Monday Finish that combines both.


    Winner: Luke Guthrie

    Why: Saturday’s third round was the first time Guthrie had ever been paired with Tiger Woods and he went shot-for-shot with the 79-time PGA TOUR winner, firing a 65 to match Tiger’s. On Sunday, the two were paired once again and Guthrie didn’t show any intimidation, coming out with a Sunday red shirt to match Woods’ trademark final-round apparel. The Academy rewards boldness. Or, in this case, happenstance.

    Acceptance speech: “This is the only shirt I had left. It was an easy choice,” Guthrie said with a laugh. “I didn't know I was going to be playing with Tiger on Sunday. I'm like, at least I'm not wearing black pants.”


    Winner: Russell Knox

    Why: We’ve seen players in the heat of the moment lose their tempers, make excuses and worse when things don’t go their way down the stretch. But kudos to Knox, who kept his career-best T2 finish in perfect perspective on Sunday. Keep reading to see what I mean.

    Acceptance speech: “You just can't control if you win or not. It's that simple,” Knox said after losing in a playoff. “All it takes is one guy to beat you by one shot. Obviously I wish I would have won, but just the way I felt coming down the last few holes was something which I know I won't forget, and when given the chance again, maybe it will be my turn.”


    Winner: The Bear Trap

    Why: We’ve read this story before, but we’ve never seen it play out quite as dramatically as we did Sunday. Each year, the promos and references to the Bear Trap (holes 15, 16 and 17 at PGA National) get more prevalent, but in 2014 they were more than justified than ever. When you walk to the tee at No. 15, just in front of the giant bear statue, there is a plaque on a rock with a description of the three holes (two par 3s and a par 4). On the plaque, there is an ominous quote from Jack Nicklaus, which proved to be right on the nose Sunday: “It should be won or lost right here.” That it was.

    Acceptance speech: (Accepting on behalf of the Bear Trap is Rory McIlroy) “No one was really coming at me. So I'm just thinking, play those last few holes just solid,” said McIlroy, who played the Bear Trap par-double bogey-bogey on Sunday. “16 was what really cost me.”


    Winner: Tiger Woods

    Why: Woods was forced to withdraw from the final round with back pain after 13 holes. It’s clear that something was amiss with Woods. The day after shooting 65 at PGA National, Woods went off the rails early, playing his opening nine in 5-over 40, including a few very loose tee shots. As of now, it’s unclear if we’ll see Woods next week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. It was the sixth time Woods had withdrawn from an event in 297 starts as a professional.

    Acceptance speech: “It's my lower back with spasms,” Woods said in a statement released after his WD. “It started this morning warming up.”

    Will he tee it up next week at Trump National Doral?

    “It's too early to tell,” he said. “I need treatment every day until Thursday to try to calm it down. We'll see how it is. It's the same feeling I had as Barclays.”


    Winner: Russell Henley

    Why: The way McIlroy was playing coming into Sunday’s final round, it seemed as though everyone else was playing for second place. But Henley, who’d missed three of his last four cuts, refused to fade away on Sunday. He didn’t give up when he bogeyed No. 10 and fell three off McIlroy’s pace. Most impressively, he didn’t quit after hitting his tee shot in the water and making double bogey at No. 15 (BEAR TRAP!). Instead he fought off his nerves and was the only player to birdie the first playoff hole, claiming his second PGA TOUR win and earning another trip to his beloved Masters.

    Acceptance speech: "This doesn't feel real," Henley said after the win. "This is not exactly what I was expecting at the start of the week. I knew I was playing well, and played ‑‑ this sounds funny. Played really well at Riviera on Friday and almost made the cut. I went from almost last to having a putt on the last hole to make the cut, and I don't know, for some reason that gave me a lot of confidence going into this week. That's really all it takes I think."


    Winner: Rory McIlroy

    Why: McIlroy wins this award for two reasons. One, he was the only superstar in contention at The Honda Classic and Best Actor goes to the Sean Penns and Daniel Day Lewises of the world. Two, up until the 70th hole of the golf tournament, McIlroy was really the only player in a leading role. But instead of walking away with just the second wire-to-wire victory in tournament history, he leaves PGA National with a runner-up finish and thoughts of a final-round 74.

    Acceptance speech: “I didn't play well enough to deserve to win today,” McIlroy said. “So I just need to pick myself up and get back at it, go down to Doral and try and put myself in position to win again and see if I can do a better job.”


    The granddaddy of them all, this award goes to the undisputed story of the week.

    Winner: “Silver Linings Playbook” starring Rory McIlroy

    Why: Best Picture is always the most debated award of the night, but I say the story of the week was still Rory McIlroy. The 2013 Honda Classic was the low point of his young career, but McIlroy fought through a very distracting year, played brilliantly this week for 54 holes, and hit the shot of the tournament at No. 18 in regulation. He lost the golf tournament, but will take away more than a few positives.

    Other nominees:

    “American Hustle” – Young Russell Henley steals a trophy McIlroy already had one hand on.

    “The Departed” – After Saturday’s flashes of brilliance, Tiger Woods is forced into an early exit from The Honda Classic.

    “Crash” – The story of final-round collapses, struggles and drama, written, directed by and starring PGA National.

    NOTABLE NUMBER: With this win, Russell Henley joins a group that seems to be growing each week: Players under 25 with multiple PGA TOUR wins. The list now includes McIlroy (6), Henley (2), Harris English (2) and Patrick Reed (2).

    UP NEXT: The TOUR heads to two spots this week. First off, Trump National Doral in Miami hosts the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where all 50 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings have committed to play. Read more in Jeff Shain’s First Look. Also, the TOUR heads to the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. Read more here in First Look

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