WESTWOOD, McILROY LEAD EARLY INTERNATIONAL HONDA ENTRIES
February 16, 2010
The International field of the 2010 Honda Classic has received an early injection of star
England 's Lee Westwood, the fourth-ranked player in the World Golf Rankings and Northern
Ireland 's rising young sensation Rory McIlroy, who has risen to 11th, have both committed
to play in the PGA TOUR event that runs March 1-7 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm
Beach Gardens .
"These great commitments are a continued endorsement of the rise in stature of our
tournament," Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. "The top players in
the world recognize the challenge of PGA National's Champion course and have taken note of
the significant enhancements to our event."
Westwood was voted the European Tour Player of the Year following his stunning 2009, in
which he ended a two-year drought with a victory at October's Portugal Masters before
capping a storming end of season run with a six-shot victory at the Dubai World
The win in Dubai secured a second European No. 1 ranking after Westwood posted 13 top 10
finishes on the way to a single-season earnings record. Westwood also came agonizingly
close to a first major title with third place finishes at The British Open and the PGA
"It was a fantastic year last year," Westwood said. "But at some point you have to stick it
in a box and move on, but still feed from the confidence I gained. I don't think I have
ever felt more eager for a new season. I would feel disappointed if I didn't achieve the
same as last year, but the majors are where I can improve because I haven't won one and
that's everybody's goal."
McIlroy first created a buzz last year when he won at Dubai at age 19, becoming the
youngest player ever to exceed 1 million pounds in earnings on the European Tour. That
second victory has eluded him, but he did finish third at the PGA Championship in August
and is presently one of the hottest players in the world.
He had a pair of runner-up finishes at the UBS Hong Kong Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links
Championship during the year and has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last eight
events, including a third-place finish in Abu Dhabi last week. For the entire season in
Europe , he placed in the Top 10 in 13 of the 25 events that he played.
"It's important to keep the run going, but it would be nice to convert some of the top
threes into wins," he said. "If I keep putting myself in these great positions sooner or
later it will happen. I just have to keep doing it."
McIlroy's haul of top 10s illustrated quite remarkable consistency - and a developing
maturity that has seen both his course management and mental focus catch up to the ball-
striking that prompted Mark O'Meara to claim he was better than Tiger Woods as a teenager.
McIlroy played 11 PGA TOUR events in 2009, including The Honda Classic, and made 10 of 11
cuts and bagged seven top-25 finishes. He also became a fan favorite along the way and has
decided to be an official member of both tours in 2010.
The improvement in his game is also constantly evident. McIlroy's European Tour stroke
average fell from 71.27 in 2008 to 69.51 in 2009. His driving accuracy improved from 56.78%
to 62.96%. And his Greens in Regulation (GIR) number rose from 68.9% to 78.12%.
"There will probably be more pressure this year," McIlroy said. " It's a lot more difficult
to move from 11th to fifth than from 40th to 20th, which brings pressures in itself to try
to stay there and to try to move higher.
"One of my big goals is to win more this year. I felt I put myself in a lot of good
positions to win last year and to be able to only win once was slightly disappointing. I
want to try to improve every year."
The 2010 edition of The Honda Classic will be played March 1-7 at PGA National Resort &
The tournament, Palm Beach County 's largest sporting event, awarded more than $642,000 to
area children's charities in 2009 to surpass the $16 million mark in charitable
contributions during American Honda's 28-year tenure as title sponsor.
Individual daily tickets can be purchased for $15 (Tuesday and Wednesday), $30 (Thursday
and Friday) or $40 (Saturday and Sunday). A Classic Value Pack good for the entire week is
$95 and includes over $300 worth of added value coupons from area golf courses, restaurants
and PGA National Resort & Spa.
Call 1-866-8HONDA8 (866-846-6328) to order tickets or visit thehondaclassic.com.