Tour kicks into overdrive
The Northern Trust signified the end of the West Coast Swing and the start of the Tour’s prep for the Masters. On Thursday, the annual Honda Classic kicks off at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The Honda Classic is the hometown event for the large chunk of players that call South Florida home.
The Florida Swing marks the start of a 6-week sprint to Augusta, beginning with the Honda this week before moving south for the first World Golf Championship of 2016 at Doral, then heading to the west coast of the state for the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook and wrapping up at the historic Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The tour follows up the Florida Swing with 2 pit stops in Texas: the popular WGC Match Play tournament and the Shell Houston Open, all leading up to the best tournament of the year...The Masters.
The Bear Trap awaits
This year’s Honda Classic is shaping up to be another primo event with 13 of the world’s top 25 players in the field to take on PGA National’s Bear Trap, a devastating closing stretch of holes that has claimed many victims in the 10 years it’s played host to the Honda.
Last year saw Padraig Harrington take home the title in a playoff with Daniel Berger. Harrington, a surprise winner, was able to turn back the clocks and pick up his first win since 2009. Besides Harrington’s title defense, other top storylines this week include 2010 champ Rory McIlroy looking for his first win of 2016 and red-hot Rickie Fowler’s first tournament since his heartbreaking defeat at the Waste Management Open.
Hard-boiled picks to click
Stat of the week:
South Florida is a tough place to play golf in March due to it being the windy season in the area. Coupling that with PGA National’s ample water hazards make scoring well a challenge. A common ingredient of players who find the top of the leaderboard at the Honda has been the ability to hit greens in regulation, so look for players who typically hit a lot of greens.
Stud: Russell Knox
DraftKings Salary: $9,700
Knox currently sits 3rd in FedEx Cup points and is leading the tour in greens in regulation for the ‘15-’16 season. Pairing that with Knox’s track record of success at PGA National (T3rd in 2015 and a playoff loss in 2014) makes this youngster a smart choice.
Sleeper: Graeme McDowell
DraftKings Salary: $8,400
The Irishman, McDowell, ranks 8th in greens in regulation on tour this year and has notched 3 top 10s in the past 5 Honda Classics. McDowell has also rededicated himself to the game in the past 6 months, and it has already paid off with his win at the OHL Classic in November.
Save the drama for your momma
On Monday, a Twitter report came out about Tiger Woods’ rehab, so naturally, Twitter went bananas. The report came from the Twitter account of “The Secret Tour Pro,” a generally reputable source who claims to be a player on the PGA Tour. The report went into detail about Tiger’s back condition worsening to the point where he is unable to walk around for more than 30-45 minutes and cannot sit up without pain.
Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, fired back denying reports, saying that Tiger was progressing.
Who to believe is questionable given golf insiders’ general trust of the Secret Tour Pros’ information and Steinberg’s history of "truthful" reporting.
Phil-ing you in
Phil Mickelson sat down with Golf Magazine’s Ryan Asselta for a tell-all interview. Phil spoke about his golf game, today’s young stars, the Ryder Cup and Tiger Woods. Here are the key takeaways:
Phil put in a lot of work in the off-season after switching teachers and still believes when he is at his best, no one can beat him.
Phil and Ryder Cup Captain, Davis Love III, talked about Phil taking on the role of Vice-Captain, but Phil declined, insisting he would earn his way onto the team as a player.
And finally, today’s best players (Spieth, McIlroy, Day and Fowler) are nowhere near Tiger in his prime. Phil remarked that none could match Tiger’s mental game, ball-striking or short-game.
A fast-approaching golf training trend: overspeed training.
Read our full review of SuperSpeed Golf, a company on the forefront of this highly effective exercise that makes it easy to increase your speed. Just ask the pros.
The European Tour and defending champ Olesen head to Perth.
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A piece that has us rethinking our opinion on Bubba.