THE HONDA CLASSIC 2016
Former Master's Champion Adam Scott Claims the 2016 Honda Classic Title!The Honda Classic at PGA National is one of the premier events on the PGA TOUR, and the first stop on the "Florida Swing." The 2016 champion Adam Scott rose to victory over The Champion course at PGA National and the infamous Bear Trap – holes 15-17 – commonly regarded as the toughest three-hole stretch on the PGA TOUR. And now, Hole #14, newly redesigned by Jack Nicklaus, is adding a bear claw to test the pros even more. The Honda Classic attracted 202,128 confirmed spectators to PGA National Resort & Spa over seven days between the Monday Pro-Am and Sunday’s final round that saw Adam Scott prevail in a day-long duel with Sergio Garcia. The victory vaulted Scott back into the Top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking at No. 9 and the runner-up finish improved Garcia’s ranking from No. 19 to No. 12.
By CRAIG DOLCH
If a golf course can be judged by the winner it produces, PGA National Resort & Spa’s The Champion course certainly lived up to its name in the 2016 Honda Classic. With record crowds watching, former Masters champion Adam Scott scored a one-shot victory over Sergio Garcia in the 10th Honda held at the world-class resort.
Scott’s final round of even-par 70 left him at 9-under 271 after four trips around the daunting, Jack Nicklaus-designed course. Both Scott (No. 19) and Garcia (No. 18) started the week in the top 20 in the world rankings, and Scott moved into the top 10 afterward. It was the Aussie’s 12th career PGA Tour victory – his first since the 2014 Colonial – and no player on the PGA Tour under the age of 40 has won more. When his 2-foot par dropped, Scott let out a deep breath as the crowd around the 18th green roared its approval. “It was certainly a sense of relief to win again,” Scott said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher to win out here.”
The Champion maintained its reputation for toughness. It marked the eighth time in 10 years the winning score at The Champion has been single-digits under par (the average winning score is 8.6-under par). “It wasn’t easy, but that’s to be expected,” Scott said. “This is a tough track.”
Fourth-ranked Rickie Fowler started the week strongly, becoming the first player to finish the first 36 holes without a bogey. He settled for a sixth-place tie, giving Honda three players inside the top 20 atop its leader board. Scott appeared to be coasting to victory Saturday until the Bear Trap took another victim. Scott was 7-under through 14 holes and had a three-shot lead over Garcia – until Scott dumped two balls in the water at No. 15 and made a quadruple bogey. When Scott held on for the victory, he became the first player to do so on the PGA Tour with a quad on his card since Phil Mickelson in 2009. “I never dreamed that these holes were going to play so difficult coming down the stretch,” said Nicklaus, who re-designed The Champion course. “If you’re going to have a Bear Trap, you might as well have a nice trap.”
Scott became the first player to win after having to convert from the anchored putter to a shorter model, thanks to the USGA’s rule change Jan. 1. It took him just three starts do so. “Adam deserved it,” Garcia said. “He played better than me. I played with him the last two days, and he looked awesome.” So did The Champion Course. Before the first meaningful shot was struck, the players were raving about the conditions. “The course is looking really good,” Rory McIlroy said after his pro-am round. “It’s looking as good as it has ever looked.” That was quite a compliment to Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy. The resort had been hit by 22 inches of rain during the previous six weeks – the average rainfall this time of year is 4 inches – but you would have never known it by the way it looked during tournament week. "We're proud of the way the course played," Nelson said. Nelson and his staff set the stage on The Champion course, allowing the world’s best players to shine. In the end, Adam Scott was the brightest star.
FORMER MASTER'S CHAMPION ADAM SCOTT CLAIMS THE 2016 HONDA CLASSIC TITLE!
By CRAIG DOLCH
The Bear Trap – the merciless stretch from the 15th to the 17th holes on The Champion course – receives all the notoriety during the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa. And deservedly so. Consider: This year’s champion, Adam Scott, won by a shot despite making a quadruple bogey on the 15th hole in the third round. Scott became the first player to win on the PGA Tour with a quad on his card since Phil Mickelson in 2009. Also consider: Last year’s champ, Padraig Harrington, won despite making a double bogey on the 17th hole in the final round. Harrington won when Daniel Berger doubled the 17th in the playoff. But the Bear Trap didn’t even have the toughest hole at this year’s Honda Classic. That distinction belonged to the hole that leads into the Bear Trap – the par-4, 465-yard 14th. The 14th hole played the most difficult in the first two rounds, when it played into a prevailing wind, and it played the hardest for the week, averaging almost a half-stroke over par (4.49) for the world’s best golfers. That made the 14th the second-hardest hole during the PGA Tour’s wraparound season, ranking just behind the par-4, 504-yard 12th at Torrey Pines South. In 439 tries, there were just 25 birdies at the 14th during this year’s Honda Classic, meaning only about one out of every 18 golfers made a 3 on the hole. There were more double bogeys (31) than birdies and half as many triple bogeys or worse (13). Rory McIlroy made a 6 on the hole in the first round when his ball ended in three different bunkers; when’s the last time you saw the No. 3-ranked player in the world do that? McIlroy, who missed the cut by a shot, didn’t offer his thoughts on the 14th because the normally affable Northern Irishman declined to talk to the media after the first and second rounds. David Lingmerth made just one bogey in his opening round of 67, at the 14th. “It felt like a par,” the Swede said. Lingmerth and his fellow PGA Tour pros can thank the Golden Bear for their misery. Jack Nicklaus, who re-designed the original George and Tom Fazio layout in 1990, was taking his annual tour of the course after the 2014 event when he stopped his cart on the 14th fairway. He had a revelation. “It seemed a shame not to have the water near the green,” Nicklaus said. “The way the hole was set up, out of bounds came into play left of the green – I think that’s too severe a penalty – and it also was difficult for the crowd to walk around the left side.” So Nicklaus moved the green 17 yards to the right, bringing a greenside lake more into play and an additional 20,000 square feet of spectator mounding was added to improve the sightlines for the Honda Classic. There are now stands to the left of the green that helped the Honda Classic set an attendance record this year with more than 202,000 fans flocking to PGA National. “I brought the green over to the water, but really kept it away from the water from the entrance to get into the green,” Nicklaus said. “The reason we kept it away from the water was because of 15, 16, 17, 18 (all holes where water comes into play). At least you’ve got some space left of the hole.” Nicklaus also sloped the green from left to right, allowing players another avenue to get to the far-right pin locations. But that also makes it more difficult to get the ball close to pins on the left side of the green. The changes immediately made the 14th tougher than a $5 steak. In 2014, the hole ranked seventh-most-difficult on the course (281st on the PGA Tour) at 4.11, but in ’15 it jumped to second-hardest at 4.32 (33rd on the PGA Tour). The 14th isn’t a pushover the other 51 weeks of the year, either. The three bunkers left of the fairway come into play on the hole that has a slight dogleg to the left. The greenside bunker to the right gets plenty of business, and if players bail out to the left, there’s a runoff area where balls that go over the green by just 1 yard roll into. “I think the 14th is our toughest hole,” said PGA National caddie Brandon Johnson, “especially when it plays into the wind.” When PGA National officials announced the change to the 14th prior to the 2015 event, Nicklaus added these comments: “It produces a little more freedom and it produces a very strong par-4 going into the Bear Trap. I honestly believe it will be more exciting, but I don’t think it will be any more difficult.” Even the best golfer of all time can be wrong once in a while.
Honda Classic History
Founded in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic, The Honda Classic is a PGA TOUR golf tournament played each March at PGA National in Florida. In 1981, American Motors (AMC) backed the tournament, but in 1982, Honda took over the title sponsorship. 3. After years of moving from course to course, the tournament found its home in 2007 on PGA National Resort & Spa's Champion course. The 2007 event marked a new executive director, Ken Kennerly, who oversees the tournament organizing committee. The tournament's main beneficiary is the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, which is chaired by Barbara Nicklaus, wife of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.