The First Look: The Honda Classic
February 23, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Keith Mitchell's winning highlights from Honda
Keith Mitchell returns to the site of his first PGA TOUR win, but will have a solid list of contenders chasing him at The Honda Classic, including past winner Rickie Fowler.
Justin Rose, the 2018 FedExCup champion, is joined by Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland, who are looking for their first wins at PGA National Resort & Spa – annually ranked as one of the toughest courses on the PGA TOUR.
RELATED: Inside The Field
FIELD NOTES: Justin Rose will be teeing it up at The Honda Classic for the first time since 2015 when he missed the cut. Rose last played on TOUR at The Genesis Invitational where he finished T56 … Rickie Fowler is back in action for the first time since the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He won The Honda Classic in 2017 by four shots … Brooks Koepka has only played three events so far this season but is back where he finished runner-up (alongside Fowler) a year ago … Koepka, Fowler and a healthy amount of others in the field have homes less than an hour from PGA National … Sponsor exemptions include former teen phenom Ryo Ishikawa, recent European Tour winner Kurt Kitayama and two-time PGA TOUR winner Lee Westwood, who, at 46, won on the European Tour earlier this year … Vijay Singh, 56, is back at The Honda Classic after finishing alone in sixth a year ago.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points
COURSE: PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion), 7,125 yards, par 70. The Champion Course is usually ranked as one of the hardest courses on the PGA TOUR each year, highlighted by The Bear Trap – an intimidating stretch of holes (Nos. 15-17) – so named after Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course in 1990.
STORYLINES: Fowler and Koepka will both be making their return to action on the PGA TOUR for the first time in a couple of weeks and both are looking to improve on their runner-up finishes from a year ago… Koepka is a West Palm Beach native, but has had a slow start to his TOUR season with a missed cut, a withdrawal, and a T43 result as he returns from a knee injury that forced him to sit out the Presidents Cup … While The Bear Trap trio gets lots of attention, the par-4 sixth hole at PGA National was ranked as the fourth-hardest hole on the PGA TOUR last season … Mitchell will look to become just the second back-to-back winner in the history of The Honda Classic. Jack Nicklaus pulled the trick in 1977-78. Mitchell has made his last two cuts and will be teeing it up for the first time since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
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).
LAST TIME: Despite a hard charge from Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka – who were both 2 under for their final three holes Sunday and Fowler dropped a 45-foot birdie on No. 17 – it was Keith Mitchell who emerged victorious. Mitchell nailed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to top Koepka and Fowler by one shot for his maiden TOUR win. Mitchell was tied for the lead through 36 holes and tied for second going into Sunday, but he hadn’t won a tournament since 2014 when, right after he turned professional, he captured a mini-tour event in North Carolina. Ryan Palmer, who shot the round of the week on Sunday (a 7-under 63), finished T4 along with Lucas Glover.
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