Tiger chasing history at The Honda Classic
There are not many gaps in Tiger Woods’ CV – but The Honda Classic is one of them.
The three-time Champion Golfer of the Year has never tasted victory at the PGA National Golf Club’s Champion Course – that has been this tournament’s home since 2007. The traditional start of the ‘Florida Swing’ on the PGA Tour, Woods will have his work cut out if he is to end his wait for the title against a stacked field in 2018.
Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and defending champion Rickie Fowler will all tee it up against the 14-time major champion.
Easy Does It
Woods is still down at 544th in the current world rankings and missed the cut at the Genesis Open in California last week. Although he has not revealed his schedule for after The Honda Classic, golf fans the world over will be delighted to see him already making his third start of the season.
This is the first time since 2015 that the 42-year-old has made multiple starts on the PGA tour and, finally pain-free, Woods’ competitive juices will be flowing again. Even without Champion Golfer of the Year Jordan Spieth and world No.1 Dustin Johnson in the field, The Honda Classic host many of golf's global stars.
Sergio Garcia, the Masters champion and runner-up at The Open at Carnoustie back in 2007, will be in action for the first time in the USA this year. Already a winner in Singapore this season, Garcia’s return to the other side of the Atlantic is sure to turn heads. Other European hopes will rest on Tommy Fleetwood, Carnoustie course record holder, and Tyrrell Hatton who is also in the USA for the first time this season.
This is an event that has seen many a Champion Golfer thrive, with Jack Nicklaus the only man to have won it consecutively and greats like Mark O’Meara, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy all tasting success here. Not to mention Padraig Harrington – the two-time Champion Golfer who has also won this event twice. It's Nicklaus who leaves the most indelible mark - not least for his course re-design that introduced the famous ‘Bear Trap’ closing holes.
On the European Tour, attentions turn to Doha and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year Darren Clarke will be playing the event for the seventh time while the man who has succeeded him as Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will also be in action. Paul Lawrie won here in 1999, just a few short months before he would go on to lift the Claret Jug at Carnoustie. What would all of the field this week give to replicate those heroics 19 years later?