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    • WESTWOOD, McILROY LEAD EARLY INTERNATIONAL HONDA ENTRIES

    The International field of the 2010 Honda Classic has received an early injection of star

    power.
    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

    Championship.
    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

    Championship.
    "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 &

    Spa.
    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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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