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      Power Rankings: The Honda Classic

    • Rory McIlroy, who won at PGA National in 2012, will look to get his season on track this week. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) Rory McIlroy, who won at PGA National in 2012, will look to get his season on track this week. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

    The PGA TOUR's annual migration from the West Coast to Florida brings with it some irony in that eagles and birdies are left behind. Only the strongest and most resilient survive the first test of the Florida Swing that is PGA National Resort & Spa's Champion Course, host of The Honda Classic.

    At +1.318 strokes to par, PGA National was the most difficult par 70 in 2013. To put its test into some perspective, that's the second-lowest it's scored (71.19, 2012) since its debut in 2007. Hitting the 6,400-square foot greens in regulation on the Jack Nicklaus redesign (circa 1990) is paramount for success given that last year's field averaged just 59.15 percent, fifth-lowest on TOUR. The scrambling clip rested at 55.47, which was 12th-lowest. This helps explains why even-par 280 has yielded five top 20s in the seven editions at PGA National.

    Since Michael Thompson's PGA TOUR breakthrough victory last year, each of the 63 bunkers was adjusted to achieve consistency throughout the property. New bunkers were added, including a yawning hazard left of the green at the par-4 16th hole. Elsewhere, two holes have been lengthened. The par-4 fourth is 19 yards longer at 395 yards, while the par-4 12th is up 11 to 438. These extensions bump the overall yardage to 7,140.

    The defending champion ranked T9 in fairways hit and T5 in GIR. He also finished fifth in stroke gained-putting and T14, T2 and T2 in par-3, par-4 and par-5 scoring, respectively. His 4.13 clip on the pair of par 5s (holes 3 and 18) featured an eagle, five birdies and two pars. That's where the field of 144 needs to capitalize.

    Of course, to get to the finishing hole, everyone navigates The Bear Trap, which kept its claws withdrawn last year. The par-3-4-3=10 stretch (holes 15, 16 and 17) averaged 10.313. For the first time in its role as host, none of the three ranked inside the top-third hardest on the course for the week.

    A reasonable chance of rain is possible through Friday. The weekend looks clear, but winds are expected to freshen. Temperatures will flirt with 80 degrees throughout.

    RANKINGS: The Honda Classic

    RANK

    PLAYER

    COMMENT

    1 Charl Schwartzel Charl Schwartzel

    He's 3-for-3 with a T14 (2011), T5 (2012) and a T9 (2013). Took fifth two weeks ago at Riviera. Two wins and two T4s late in 2013.

    He's 3-for-3 with a T14 (2011), T5 (2012) and a T9 (2013). Took fifth two weeks ago at Riviera. Two wins and two T4s late in 2013.

    2 Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell

    Showcased clutch putting and went 3-1 at the Match Play. No worse than T17 in last six starts. Top 10s in last three tries at PGA National.

    Showcased clutch putting and went 3-1 at the Match Play. No worse than T17 in last six starts. Top 10s in last three tries at PGA National.

    3 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy

    The 2012 champion went bogey-free 3-under on The Bear Trap en route to victory. Five consecutive top 10s in stroke-play starts upon arrival.

    The 2012 champion went bogey-free 3-under on The Bear Trap en route to victory. Five consecutive top 10s in stroke-play starts upon arrival.

    4 Keegan Bradley Keegan Bradley

    The top-20 machine ranks 25th in the all-around and sixth in scrambling. Tied for 12th here in 2012; validated with a T4 last year.

    The top-20 machine ranks 25th in the all-around and sixth in scrambling. Tied for 12th here in 2012; validated with a T4 last year.

    5 Sergio Garcia Sergio Garcia

    Six top 10s in last 10 starts. Won in Thailand in December and in Qatar in January. Best of three cuts made at PGA National: T13 in 2009.

    Six top 10s in last 10 starts. Won in Thailand in December and in Qatar in January. Best of three cuts made at PGA National: T13 in 2009.

    6 Adam Scott Adam Scott

    First appearance since missing the cut in 2011. No worse than T8 (Sony Open in Hawaii) in his last six official starts worldwide.

    First appearance since missing the cut in 2011. No worse than T8 (Sony Open in Hawaii) in his last six official starts worldwide.

    7 Zach Johnson Zach Johnson

    Ten top 10s in his last 13 official stroke-play events. Capped a T3 at Humana with a 62. Leads TOUR in fairways hit; third in GIR.

    Ten top 10s in his last 13 official stroke-play events. Capped a T3 at Humana with a 62. Leads TOUR in fairways hit; third in GIR.

    8 Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler

    Relatively surprising survivor of the Hogan Bracket last week. Won consolation match on Sunday. T7 at PGA National in 2012; T13 last year.

    Relatively surprising survivor of the Hogan Bracket last week. Won consolation match on Sunday. T7 at PGA National in 2012; T13 last year.

    9 Brian Harman Brian Harman

    T3 at Riviera in last start. Sits 11th in strokes gained-putting, 26th in adjusted scoring. Course record (61) at PGA National; T12 in 2012.

    T3 at Riviera in last start. Sits 11th in strokes gained-putting, 26th in adjusted scoring. Course record (61) at PGA National; T12 in 2012.

    10 Tiger Woods Tiger Woods

    Co-runner-up in 2012 when he closed with a 62. Four straight starts on the PGA TOUR without a top 10; longest drought in two years.

    Co-runner-up in 2012 when he closed with a 62. Four straight starts on the PGA TOUR without a top 10; longest drought in two years.

    11 Lee Westwood Lee Westwood

    Three top 10s in his last four trips to PGA National. Entered last year's edition on lull to his current, and then tied for ninth.

    Three top 10s in his last four trips to PGA National. Entered last year's edition on lull to his current, and then tied for ninth.

    12 Michael Thompson Michael Thompson

    The defending champ posted T19s in his last two starts (WMPO, Pebble Beach). Ranks sixth in fairways hit, 26th in strokes gained-putting.

    The defending champ posted T19s in his last two starts (WMPO, Pebble Beach). Ranks sixth in fairways hit, 26th in strokes gained-putting.

    13 Hideki Matsuyama Hideki Matsuyama

    First appearance at PGA National. Six straight top 25s in between injuries since November. Sixth on TOUR in adjusted scoring.

    First appearance at PGA National. Six straight top 25s in between injuries since November. Sixth on TOUR in adjusted scoring.

    14 Luke Donald Luke Donald

    Solo second (2008) and a T10 (2011) in two tries at PGA National. May need to lean on that success to climb out of his recent rut.

    Solo second (2008) and a T10 (2011) in two tries at PGA National. May need to lean on that success to climb out of his recent rut.

    15 Patrick Reed Patrick Reed

    On some kind of tear that includes his second PGA TOUR win (Humana) amid a string of five top 20s. Currently seventh in all-around ranking.

    On some kind of tear that includes his second PGA TOUR win (Humana) amid a string of five top 20s. Currently seventh in all-around ranking.

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