photo courtesy the Honda Classic
The 2019 Honda Classic rolls into South Florida this weekend as the PGA Tour begins its cruise through the sunshine state. Standing in the way of glory is the PGA National Resort & Spa’s Champion course. Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio, the course received a facelift in 1990 from Jack Nicklaus and is routinely ranked as one of the hardest courses on the entire PGA Tour. It was Nicklaus who added the famous 15th, 16th and 17th holes known as the “Bear Trap”. These holes demand precision, a hard task given the often windy conditions, and as Nicklaus himself said, “It should be won or lost right here.” Nicklaus knows a few things about winning the Honda Classic, as he is the only back-to-back champion., Defending champion Justin Thomas will hope to emulate Nicklaus as he tees off for his title defense this Thursday.
2018 Champion Justin Thomas
photo courtest USA Today Sports
Justin Thomas had to win the hard way last year when he found himself chasing Luke List in the fourth round. Thomas would finish his fourth round with a birdie that pushed him even with List and forced a playoff. On the decisive first playoff hole, List drove his ball immediately into the rough while Thomas hit an accurate drive onto the fairway. List never recovered as Thomas birdied the hole to claim his 8th PGA Tour title.
2019 Field Preview
Thomas will face a strong field as he tries to retain the championship. Two big names are 2017 Honda Classic champion Rickie Fowler and 2018 PGA Tour Player of the Year Brooks Koepka. Fowler and Koepka are also locals who will look to enjoy all the comforts of home during the tournament. Padraig Harrington will look to be the first golfer to win the tournament 3 times as he makes his first appearance since a wrist injury nearly 3 months ago. Luke List is also in contention again as he chases his first PGA Tour win after several close calls, including last year's playoff defeat. Sergio Garcia rounds out the crowd of favorites as he looks to warm up for the Player Championship occuring in 2 weeks.
2017 champion Rickie Fowler. photo courtesy Jason Getz