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The First Look: The Honda Classic

4 Min Read

The First Look

    Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley

    Sepp Straka returns to PGA National looking to become the first repeat winner at The Honda Classic since Jack Nicklaus in 1977-1978, while Pierceson Coody – the top player in last year’s PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global class – will make his first TOUR start as a pro.

    FIELD NOTES: Straka staged a five-shot comeback in the final round last year to win his first event on the PGA TOUR. He also qualified for his first TOUR Championship in 2022… Shane Lowry, who finished runner-up to Straka, also is returning to PGA National… Billy Horschel and Sungjae Im, the 2020 Honda champion, are the two highest-ranked players in the field… Adam Svensson is the top-ranked golfer from this season’s FedExCup standings who is in the field. Svensson, like plenty of TOUR pros, calls the Palm Beach area home. He also won the 2015 Korn Ferry Tour Q-School Finals at PGA National by seven strokes. Svensson earned his first PGA TOUR win this season, at The RSM Classic… Coody, who also is a former No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has won twice in 15 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour since turning pro last June. He is fourth on the Korn Ferry Tour’s points list after winning the Panama Championship earlier this year. He is not the only young Korn Ferry Tour winner competing this week on a sponsor exemption. Akshay Bhatia, 21, also is in the field… Marcus Byrd is back in action on TOUR after earning an exemption via a victory at the APGA Farmers Insurance Invitational. Byrd competed at The Genesis Invitational the Charlie Sifford Exemption… Andrew Kozan, a West Palm Beach native who grew up watching The Honda Classic in person, is also playing on a sponsor exemption. Kozan, 24, won on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022… A pair of two-time DP World Tour winners in Adrian Meronk and Min Woo Lee are in the field on exemptions… Padraig Harrington is making his first PGA TOUR start of the season. He won this event in 2005 and 2015. Harrington won four times on PGA TOUR Champions last season, including the U.S. Senior Open and Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

    FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.

    COURSE: PGA National (Champion), par 70, 7,125 yards. Tom and George Fazio designed the course in 1981 and it was re-worked by Jack Nicklaus in 2002, 2014, and 2018. Water is in play on 15 of the 18 holes including The Bear Trap (Nos. 15-17), a water-laden stretch of two par-3s and a par-4 that will often make or break a round. New for this year at PGA National is a bunker renovation – bunkers have been removed on Nos. 13 and 16 and there has been “bunkerage reduction” on the final two holes.

    STORYLINES: More on Pierceson Coody, making his TOUR debut as a pro: He had a celebrated collegiate career at the University of Texas and won in his third start as a pro on the Korn Ferry Tour last season after topping the PGA TOUR U rankings. His twin brother Parker also competes on the Korn Ferry Tour, while his grandfather, Charles, is a three-time TOUR winner including the 1971 Masters… Only one golfer has won the Honda Classic in back-to-back years – Jack Nicklaus… Both Ryder Cup captains – Zach Johnson and Luke Donald – are teeing it up… The tournament has raised over $60 million for local children’s charities (including a record $6.45-million in 2022)… The Monday qualifier will offer four spots for The Honda Classic and with how much golfing star power calls the Palm Beach Gardens area home, and with the Korn Ferry Tour off that week, it’s one of the most competitive of the season.

    72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Justin Leonard (2003 at Mirasol). PGA National record: 267, Camilo Villegas (2010)

    18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Brian Harman (2nd round, 2012), Matt Jones (1st round, 2021)

    LAST TIME: Despite entering Sunday five shots back of the lead, Sepp Straka fired a final-round 66 to win by one over Shane Lowry. Straka tapped in for birdie on the 72nd hole in the rain to become the first Austrian winner in PGA TOUR history. Daniel Berger, who led by six with 19 holes left in the tournament, fired a Sunday 74 and ended up three shots back of Straka’s winning total. With the final groups wrapping up their days the skies opened up. Neither Straka nor his playing partner on the day, Kurt Kitayama, wanted to come out from under their umbrellas to hit their approach shots on the par-5 finishing hole. They did eventually, however, and Straka two-putted for a closing birdie to get to 10 under. Lowry had a chance to force a playoff on the final hole but missed his 45-foot attempt. Kitayama finished third alone at 8 under while Berger finished fourth alone at 7 under. Alex Noren and Gary Woodland were three shots further back at 4 under and finished tied for fifth.


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    Featured Group: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
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    Featured Group: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Group: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
    Stream 3Featured Groups: 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.Featured Groups: 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.Featured Groups: 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m.Featured Groups: 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured Hole: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
    Stream 4Featured Holes: 7:45 a.m.-2 p.m.Featured Holes: 7:45 a.m.-2 p.m.Featured Holes: 7:45 a.m.-1 p.m.Featured Holes: 7:45 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured Hole: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.Featured Hole: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

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