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World’s best square off at the Honda Classic

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Defending champion Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the world’s Nos. 1 and 2 ranked golfers respectively, will look to reestablish their dominance on the PGA Tour this week at the Honda Classic held at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

McIlroy’s two-stroke victory at the 2012 Honda Classic came against a charging Woods, who shot a final round 62 to finish tied for second. His victory in the duel against Woods propelled McIlroy to the top of golf’s world rankings for the first time in his career — second youngest player to Woods to reach the top spot — but McIlroy’s 2013 season is off to a slow start. Like Woods, he was booted in the first round of last week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, and missed the cut when he teed it up together at their season opener — the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The field at the 2013 Honda Classic will boast 13 of the world’s top 25 ranked golfers, all looking to tame the difficult Championship Course at PGA National. The 7,110-yard, par -0 has held the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and 18 Senior PGA Championships.

Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course in 1990, giving claws to the three-hole gantlet of Nos. 15, 16 and 17 nicknamed “the bear trap” after the Golden Bear himself. Last year at the event, 24 percent of all bogeys, 52 percent of all double bogeys and 74 percent of all triple bogeys were credited to the stretch of holes according to PGATour.com

McIlroy, who is looking to join Nicklaus as the second player to successfully defend his Honda Classic title, managed to play the three-hole stretch in 3-under for the week on his way to victory last year.

The Europeans will look to end the eight-tournament streak of American-born winners on the Tour this year, and recent history is on their side. The only American winner of the Honda Classic in the last eight years was Mark Wilson who won in a playoff in 2007, the first year PGA National hosted the event.

McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen (No. 5), Justin Rose (No 6), Lee Westwood (No. 9) and 2012 British Open Winner Ernie Els (No. 24), although born internationally, will be playing on home turf — they all have houses nearby the Palm Beach Gardens Area.

Woods, Keegan Bradley (No.18) and Dustin Johnson (No. 19) who also live nearby in Jupiter, Fla., will represent the American side at PGA National. Johnson was a late add-in to the tournament after an early first round exit at the WGC Match-Play Championship.

Woods and Johnson will be searching for their second Tour victories this year.

Click here to see our inside the ropes photos from the Honda Classic

 

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Adam Solowiei

    Feb 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I would expect Rory to play fairly well this week. everyone jumped on his equipment change but the reality he was knocking the rust off. The guy only have 54 holes played in 2013.

    This week though I really like Schwartzel. Throwing out the match play event he is on fire and one of the best ball strikers in the world. He is 2nd (I believe) in strokes saved putting which will only help.

  2. Troy Vayanos

    Feb 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    It will be interesting see how Rory McIlroy goes in this tournament. I’m thinking he will want to start showing some form with the US Masters just around the corner.

    I don’t think he needs to win this tournament but definitely needs to make the cut and be in the thick of the action.

  3. Brandon

    Feb 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    The tiger cancer? You mean the one that has won 75 PGA tournaments and 14 majors. Ya don’t hang out with that wouldn’t want to catch any of that. That sounds bad haha

    • Scratch

      Feb 27, 2013 at 9:42 am

      It’s not like being around him rubs off on others. Yeah he’s great. Nothing more needs to be said or debated. But when you look at the success of folks that join the Nike stable something does happen. And it ain’t good. Think Duval. Think Cink. It’s too soon to watch what happens to Rory. I don’t think it has anything to do with Tiger other than he knows most club changes don’t work. Think Payne Stewart. Maybe helping to lure them to Nike is a coincidence. That he’s really a team player (check Ryder cup record of this great player). It’s interesting. But tiger is great. Maybe the others were not.

  4. Jon

    Feb 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Rory needs to stay far away from the Tiger cancer. It’s not looking too good with the new switch. Money isn’t worth it sometimes.

    • brokeinorlando

      Mar 2, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Tiger Cancer? WTH? Rory is a 23 yr old stud with too much money and a new girl, he can hit any clubs. I along with 99% of golf enthusiasts would like to have a little of the “Tiger Cancer” he is a flat out winner.

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5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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