Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
PGA - The Honda Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, March 5th through Sunday, March 8th
SITE: PGA National Resort and Spa (Champion Course), Palm Beach Gardens, FL
COURSE ARCHITECT: Tom and George Fazio (1981), Jack Nicklaus (1990, 2002)
PAR: 70
YARDAGE: 7,158
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 365 Yds10 - Par 4 508 Yds
2 - Par 4 464 Yds11 - Par 4 450 Yds
3 - Par 5 538 Yds12 - Par 4 427 Yds
4 - Par 4 376 Yds13 - Par 4 388 Yds
5 - Par 3 217 Yds14 - Par 4 465 Yds
6 - Par 4 479 Yds15 - Par 3 179 Yds
7 - Par 3 226 Yds16 - Par 4 434 Yds
8 - Par 4 427 Yds17 - Par 3 190 Yds
9 - Par 4 421 Yds18 - Par 5 604 Yds
35 3,513 Yds35 3,645 Yds
Annual:  37th
Television:  Golf Channel - Thursday/Friday -- 3-6 p.m. (et),
  Thursday/Friday -- 8:30-11:30 p.m. (et) - replay,
  NBC - Saturday/Sunday -- 3-6 p.m. (et)
Defending Champion:  Ernie Els
Runner-Up:  Jose Coceres, Boo Weekley, Camilo Villegas
Tournament Record:  264 (Justin Leonard, 2003)
54-Hole Record:  196 (Davis Love III, 2003)
36-Hole Record:  128 (Dan Pohl, 1989)
18-Hole Record:  62 (Hale Irwin, 1979 - Inverrary G&CC)
  (Dan Pohl, 1989; Tim Herron, 1996 - TPC at Eagle Trace)
  (Jerry Kelly, Adam Scott, 2003 - Mirasol - Sunset Course)
Course Record:  64 (Luke Donald, 2008)
Total Purse:  $5,500,000
Shares:  1st Place - $990,000; 2nd Place - $594,000; 3rd Place - $374,000
2008 Finish
Ernie Els274Matt Jones277
Luke Donald275Alex Cejka278
Nathan Green276Brian Davis278
Robert Allenby277Matthew Goggin278
Mark Calcavecchia277Michael Letzig278
John Mallinger278
Past Honda Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2008Ernie Els (274) -- Luke Donald
2007*Mark Wilson (275) -- Jose Coceres, Boo Weekley, Camilo Villegas
2006Luke Donald (276) -- Geoff Ogilvy
2005*Padraig Harrington (274) -- Vijay Singh, Joe Ogilvie
2004Todd Hamilton (276) -- Davis Love III
2003Justin Leonard (264) -- Chad Campbell, Davis Love III
2002Matt Kuchar (269) -- Brad Faxon, Joey Sindelar
2001Jesper Parnevik (270) -- Craig Perks, Mark Calcavecchia, Geoff Ogilvy
2000Dudley Hart (269) -- J.P. Hayes, Kevin Wentworth
1999Vijay Singh (277) -- Payne Stewart
1998Mark Calcavecchia (270) -- Vijay Singh
1997Stuart Appleby (274) -- Michael Bradley, Payne Stewart
1996Tim Herron (271) -- Mark McCumber
1995Mark O'Meara (275) -- Nick Faldo
1994Nick Price (276) -- Craig Parry
1993*#Fred Couples (207) -- Robert Gamez
1992*Corey Pavin (273) -- Fred Couples
1991Steve Pate (279) -- Paul Azinger, Dan Halldorson
1990John Huston (282) -- Mark Calcavecchia
1989Blaine McCallister (266) -- Payne Stewart
1988Joey Sindelar (276) -- Ed Fiori, Sandy Lyle, Payne Stewart
1987Mark Calcavecchia (279) -- Bernhard Langer, Payne Stewart
1986Kenny Knox (287) -- Andy Bean, John Mahaffey, Jodie Mudd, Clarence Rose
1985*Curtis Strange (275) -- Peter Jacobsen
1984*Bruce Lietzke (280) -- Andy Bean
1983Johnny Miller (278) -- Jack Nicklaus
1982Hale Irwin (269) -- Jack Nicklaus, Denis Watson
1981Tom Kite (274) -- Jack Nicklaus
1980Johnny Miller (274) -- Charles Coody, Bruce Lietzke
1979Larry Nelson (274) -- Grier Jones
1978Jack Nicklaus (276) -- Grier Jones
1977Jack Nicklaus (275) -- Gary Player
1976@Jack Nicklaus (269) -- J.C.Snead (Tournament Players Championship)
1975Bob Murphy (273) -- Eddie Pearce
1974Leonard Thompson (278) -- Hale Irwin
1973Lee Trevino (279) -- Forrest Fezler
1972Tom Weiskopf (278) -- Jack Nicklaus

* - Won in Playoff

# - Rain Shortened

@ - Tournament Players Championship

Note:Formerly called Honda Inverrary Classic (1982-83), American Motors
Inverrary Classic (1981), Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic (1974-80), Jackie Gleason's Inverrary National Airlines Classic (1973) and Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic (1972). Inverrary Golf and Country Club served as host to the Tournament Players Championship in 1976.

Top Contenders in the Field
Ernie ElsT-46------------------------Won
Luke Donald---------T-30---T-21---WonT-462nd
Nathan Green---------------------mcmc3rd
Robert AllenbyT-46---------T-40T-4T-14T-31T-5T-4
Mark CalcavecchiaT-74T-7T-2T-21T-14wdmcT-41mcT-4
Jose Coceres---------------mc------T-2T-12
Dudley HartT-9WonT-47T-30T-40---T-386thmcT-15
Justin Rose------------T-57T-36T-14------T-15
Camilo Villegas---------------------T-31T-2T-24
Steve Marino---------------------------T-24
Davis Love III---T-19---T-30T-22ndT-70T-55T-13T-30
J.J. Henry------mcT-46T-40T-55mcmcT-22T-30
Woody AustinT-38------T-30T-8T-4mcmcT-53T-30
Justin Leonard------------WonT-25T-38mcmcT-30
Matt Kuchar---------WonT-71mcmcmcT-39T-43
Sergio Garcia---------------------------T-43
Boo Weekley---------mc------------T-2T-74
Mark Wilson------------mc---T-63---Wonmc
Todd Hamilton---------------WonT-34mcmcmc
Angel Cabrera---------T-21------------mcmc
Brian GayT-38T-4T-27T-46T-8mcT-22T-41mc---
Stewart Cink------------T-24---------------
Miguel A. Jimenez------------------------------
Rory McIlroy------------------------------
Andres Romero------------------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Rory McIlroy
Darkhorse - Mark Calcavecchia
Last Week's Pick to Win - Match Play (Woods/Stenson) - Lost in 2nd/1st Round
Last Week's Darkhorse - Match Play (Casey/D.Johnson) - Finished 2nd/1st Round
Last Week's Pick to Win - Mayakoba (Bill Lunde) - Missed the cut
Last Week's Darkhorse - Mayakoba (Brendon de Jonge) - Finished tied for 15th
The PGA Tour heads east to Florida this week for the first of four straight weeks in the Sunshine State, the 37th annual Honda Classic. Eleven of the top-40 players in the world are in the field this week, including world No. 2 Sergio Garcia, who lost in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play last week to Charl Schwartzel, 1-up. Defending champion Ernie Els is also in the field this week. Els, who has fallen to No. 14 in the world rankings, lost in the quarterfinals last week to Stewart Cink, 2 & 1.

Last year, Els fired a final-round 67 to come from three strokes down at the start of the day to win The Honda Classic. Els completed his 16th PGA Tour title at six-under-par 274 to beat 2006 champion Luke Donald by one shot. Els won for the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2004 WGC-American Express Championship in Ireland. He birdied four of the first seven holes in the final round to get into contention and held on from there as the leaders went backwards in breezy conditions. Els ran off nine straight pars from the eighth to remain atop the leaderboard. His streak of pars ended at the par-three 17th, where he tripped to a bogey, but he got up and down for par at the last for the victory. Donald shot a 64 in the opening round to establish a new course record.

In 2007, Mark Wilson drained a birdie putt on the third playoff hole to win The Honda Classic. Wilson, who was in the playoff with Jose Coceres, Camilo Villegas and Boo Weekley, converted from just over 10 feet on Monday morning for his first PGA Tour title. The four men finished regulation at five-under- par 275.

Wilson became the 10th player to earn his first PGA Tour win at this event, joining Leonard Thompson (1974), Larry Nelson (1979), Kenny Knox (1986), John Huston (1990), Tim Herron (1996), Stuart Appleby (1997), Matt Kuchar (2002), Todd Hamilton (2004) and Padraig Harrington (2005). Wilson won in Mexico in the Mayakoba Golf Classic opposite the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Geoff Ogilvy became the fifth player in tournament history to record a double eagle in 2006, when he holed out from 180 yards with an eight-iron. The other players who have double eagles at this event are: Bruce Lietzke (1980), David Sutherland (2000), Tim Petrovic (2002) and James McLean (2003).

In 2005, Harrington holed a six-foot par putt on the second playoff hole and watched as Vijay Singh's short par effort lipped out to give the Irishman his first career victory on the PGA Tour at The Honda Classic. Harrington's six- shot comeback in the final round was the largest in event history.

In 2003, course records were falling at the Honda Classic. Davis Love III set a new 54-hole mark of 196 after back-to-back 65s in rounds two and three. That same year, Justin Leonard's tournament total of 264 broke the event mark by two shots set back in 1989 by Blaine McCallister.

Jack Nicklaus is the only player to win this event two straight years (1977-78). Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Mark Calcavecchia are the only players to win this event more than once. Nicklaus won this event in 1976 when it hosted The Tournament Players Championship.

Over the years, this event has been staged at many sites. From 1972 through 1983 the tournament was held at Inverrary Golf & Country Club's East Course, when it was titled the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic. Under its present name, the tournament moved to the TPC at Eagle Trace from 1984 through 1991. In 1992, the event moved to Weston Hills Golf & Country Club for four seasons, followed by a one-year return to the TPC at Eagle Trace. From 1997 to 2002, the TPC at Heron Bay was the host venue. The Country Club at Mirasol hosted the event from 2003-06 before it moved to PGA National in 2007.

The Champion Course at PGA National Resort and Spa staged the 1983 Ryder Cup matches and the 1987 PGA Championship, won by Larry Nelson. The course was also the site of 28 Senior PGA Championships and five PGA Club Professional Championships. The Champion Course was originally designed by Tom and George Fazio in 1981 and redesigned by Nicklaus in 1990 and 2002.

The last time a player shot 80 and still won a tournament on the PGA Tour was in 1986, when Kenny Knox claimed a one-shot victory at this event. Jesper Parnevik (2001) and Herron (1996) are the only wire-to-wire winners of this event. Seven players have gone on to win the Honda Classic after sharing or holding sole possession of the 36-hole lead: Nicklaus (1977), Curtis Strange (1985), Knox (1986), Steve Pate (1991), Mark O'Meara (1995), Herron (1996) and Parnevik (2001).

The PGA Tour continues its Florida swing in Miami next week for the WGC-CA Championship, as Geoff Ogilvy defends his title at Doral Golf Resort & Spa against the best players in the world. The rest of the PGA Tour will be at the Puerto Rico Open, where Greg Kraft captured the 2008 event.

03/03 14:32:07 ET

As of March 3, 2009, at 02:32 PM ET