Two keys are key to success at PGA National. Matt Jones used them to perfection last year in the Honda Classic.
First, make lots of birdsies.
The second is to not try to make too many birdies.
This plan is not contradictory as it appears. Jones won the Honda by five shots last year. He echoed the sentiments of past winners: To simply accept what the course offers and not force anything.
Jones said that he enjoys the “toughness” of the course. He made 20 birdies to win the title a year ago and was the second-most Honda winner over the past 11 years. You have to be patient out there. Don’t be greedy, or you will get bitten very quickly.”
The Florida Swing season begins Thursday at PGA National. The Honda will be back in the traditional position that led off the run through Florida. Next week, Bay Hill will be in Orlando. The Players Championship is in Ponte Vedra Beach. The Valspar Championship takes place at Innisbrook Resort in Tampa.
The Honda field is missing 10 of the top-10 ranked players in the world, which may be a bit disappointing for tournament organizers. The organizers might also be relieved that none of the major champions are in attendance.
Phil Mickelson won’t be playing this week, and it’s unclear when he will again. However, he is dominating the sport’s headlines. Mickelson apologised Tuesday for comments regarding the Saudis, and a super league that could draw players away from PGA Tour. This, along with a mandatory player meeting at PGA National this week, could mean that Mickelson’s storyline is getting more attention than just wondering which direction the wind will blow in Palm Beach Gardens on Saturday.
Brooks Koepka, a Palm Beach County native who is one of Honda’s favorite fans, stated Wednesday that he was happy with the PGA Tour. I think everyone out there is happy. He can think anything he likes. He can do anything he likes. He is happy, so I believe everyone out there is happy. It seems that many people here share the same opinion.
Honda is too difficult without any off-the-course drama.
The average winning score for the event at PGA National is a smidge under 9 under. Ten of the events were decided by one shot or a playoff in the fifteen previous years. Jones smashed both those norms last season, winning by five and shooting 12 under.
It’s a grind that appeals to Koepka, a two-time U.S. Open champion.
Koepka stated, “I like it since it’s hard.” “I like difficult courses. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 or 25 under each week. This is not me. I won’t shoot 66, 65 rounds every round. This is probably why U.S. “Opens I am pretty much competing every time and I do better on the more difficult tracks.”
Jones won the Honda with a perfect nine-birdie, no bogey round at 61 last year. A first-round lead is not usually significant. Sungjae im was tied for 63rd in the Honda 2020 first round, but he went on to win.
A first-round 61 is something else. It set the tone.
Jones stated that it was one of those rounds in which Jones hit it really well and hit it close on many holes. Jones said that he played the par-3s very well. Although I don’t think it is the key to this course, if you can play them consistently well you will have a great tournament.
He wasn’t wire to wire — Aaron Wise finished three shots ahead of Jones after 36 holes. After that, he shot 75-73. Jones held a three-shot lead going into Sunday. He was then beaten by five.
It sounded simple. It was not. Jones was determined to keep his cool, even with a large lead. He didn’t stop until he reached the 17th green on Sunday. PGA National is a place where you can’t let go until the end. The windswept, three-hole Bear Trap stretch, a nod towards Jack Nicklaus, is the par-3, 4 and par-3 holes 15-17 that decides the fate of a round.
Jones stated, “When you win on PGA Tour it is an incredible feeling.” It doesn’t happen very often for most people.