photo courtesy the Honda Classic
The Honda Classic is a PGA Tour event based in Florida that has been contested since 1972 when it was originally known as Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic. The 2018 Honda Classic is scheduled to take place February 22-25 at the PGA National Golf Club, with winners receiving 500 FedEx Cup points. Players compete on the Champions course. The course, originally designed by Tom and George Fazio, received a facelift from Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and 2002. The resulting course is known for its high difficulty, especially the closing 15, 16, and 17th holes known as the “bear trap” in honor of the Golden Bear himself.
The tournament has been held at 7 different courses over its 40+ year history. The original venue was the Inverrary Country Club, which hosted the tournament for 11 years. During the 1970s, the high prize money attracted the era’s best golfers, including winners Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus. The tournament bounced around Southern Florida venues until settling at the PGA National Golf Club in 2007, where it has remained ever since. Currently, there have only been four repeat champions. These include Padraig Harrington, Johnny Miller, Mark Calcavecchia and Jack Nicklaus with two wins each.
Rickie Fowler is the defending Honda Classic champion and is looking to be the first consecutive winner since Jack Nicklaus himself. Fowler shot twelve under par to claim the fourth PGA Tour title of his career. Despite seeing his last round lead cut to one stroke, Fowler rallied with a strong putting performance to claim the title. A strong start to the 2018 season sees Fowler as the odds-on favorite to claim this year’s title, however, given the nature of golf another victory is anything but assured.
In addition to Fowler, other favorites include Justin Thomas and 2012 champion Rory McIlroy. Thomas is the highest ranking golfer in the tournament, with an official world golf ranking of 4th in the world. McIlroy has proved his credentials with 13 PGA Tour wins residing in the Northern Irishman’s locker. World numbers 11 and 12, Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood respectively, are also in the field and remain favorites in their own right. But as golf fans know, anything can happen once the tournament begins and a winner could come from anywhere. Fan favorite Tiger Woods will look to improve on his 2012 second place finish as he looks to continue rebuilding his career.
Schedule of Events and TV Coverage
The tournament kicks off Thursday morning with 144 players and plays a round every day, finishing with the fourth and final round on Sunday. Tickets are still available, with packages including the luxury Legends Club or simple day passes available. The Honda Classic also offers complimentary tickets for reserve, active duty, and veterans. More information about ticketing can be found in Resources. TV coverage for the event is provided by Golf Channel and CBS, with Golf channel handling 2-6pm ET on Thursday and Friday, and 1-3pm ET Saturday and Sunday. CBS will be handling the primetime coverage of the third and fourth rounds, 3-6pm ET on Saturday and Sunday.
The Honda Classic donates all profit to the Children’s Healthcare Charity, a program established by the Honda Classic to disperse money to South Florida nonprofits. The tournament has a longstanding relationship with the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, who remains the primary benefactor of the tournament.The Foundation runs a children’s hospital in Miami, and supports initiatives the support treating and diagnosing childhood diseases and disorders as well as programs aimed at improving the quality and access of pediatric care.