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PGA Tour: 35th Running of the Honda Classic: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Wed 24 Feb 2016, 3:41 pm

First topic message reminder :

1).Honda, the longest serving title sponsor of a PGA Tour event, announced this week they'd be extending their sponsorship thru' 2021, another tick-mark on Finchem's list of achievements. The tournament started life in the early '70's as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic and has survived through thick and (plenty of) thin ever since.
It's noteworthy in the Ballwasher as the 1978 edition was the first US non-Major I'd ever paid attention to, an extraordinary come-from-behind win by Jack Nicklaus overhauling Grier Jones.

Three behind, Happy Jack chipped in on 14 from 80 feet, sank a 20-footer on #15 and chipped in again on #16. Then:
"He birdied 16, walked across water to number 17 and teed it up. All I've got to say is I saw the finest golf played today that I've ever seen played in my life," said Irwin, "The man's amazing."

On #17 he holed a 20-foot birdie and nailed his approach on #18 to within four feet and sank the putt.  
 
"It's the most remarkable thing I've witnessed in my life," said Trevino.

Even Nicklaus kinda liked it: "All of a sudden, I was ahead and I won. It was kind of neat. It was kind of fun."

Not sure what Grier Jones thought about it but he never won again, except as caddie on the Champions Tour for Gibby Gilbert. He's now a college golf coach in Kansas.

2).We'll return to the "Honda" later, but let's go back a week to the last "Northern Trust Open" at Riviera. The first mini-Major of the PGA Tour season? (Followed by Quail Hollow and Memorial for me.)
It certainly has all the ingredients, first and foremost a terrific course which attracts a strong field almost every year to a major-league city, LA.

3).The course first, which I reckon looks as interesting a design as there is on Tour.
Every year "TV" raves about the short par-4 10th hole and debate ensues as to its place among world-class short Par-4's. This year the green seemed a bit fairer, more receptive anyway, than last year when it was rock hard and looked borderline impossible. It seems like some "redefinition" of the bunkering and green surface is in the works. Hope so because a great hole should also be a fair hole.

4).Which is your favourite short Par-4?
The 17th at TPC Scottsdale?
The 15th at TPC River Highlands (home of The Travelers)?
Ian Baker Finch put his dibs in for a couple of holes at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath.
I like the 14th at Quail Hollow, more natural than the two TPC's.

5).Bubba Watson passed a kidney stone last Monday and passed 143 golfing chokers later in the week.
The recipe for his success was apparently not fairways, greens and a few putts, but "damn the fairways, just get the angle to the flag correct, even if you have to play from the rough,"; two fairways hit Friday, for instance, but signed for a 68. Then, no 3-putts, and hole everything inside five feet.
It won't work every week, but then again it doesn't have to; Bubba (and Dustin and JB and some others of their ilk) don't play every week. Rory will learn from Bubba's winning strategy; he played beautifully for 57.98 holes and then imploded, but he won't make that mistake at Riviera again.

6).Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, carded a 79 and the scribes ascribed his failings to tiredness.

7).The US media like the looks of the current Top 12 of their qualifying list for Ryder Cup action. Can't blame 'em there:
Spieth, DJ, Sneds, ZJ, Bubba, Fowler, Phil, Reed, Koepka, JB, Kisner, Duf.
That'll change, of course, plenty of time for Kuchar, Walker, Furyk, etc, etc to catch up if they're up to it. A number of candidates are dining at Jack Nicklaus's place this week; not sure how many but Billy Horschel (#24) is going. Jack must have a big table . . . . . . .

8).Young guns in their twenties won the first four events of the PGA Tour season, following domination in the Play-Offs by Day, Fowler and Spieth; but all but two (Spieth, Matsuyama) of the past ten winners have been old geezers in their thirties.

9).And so to the 35th edition of the "Honda Classic", back again at PGA National. It won't make me buy their cars, but kudos to Honda for their commitment to the Tour and six more years to come.
Last year saw five British or Irish players finish in the Top 6, with Luke Donald T7. Not optimistic that will be repeated, but good to see Fitzpatrick ("toothy" according to Rob Bolton - now, would he describe Woods as "toothy", wouldn't dare?), Sullivan and Lowry in the field. The wind will be up on Thursday and that'll make the "Bear Trap" extremely penal unless the Tour cuts the holes on #15 and #17 in sensible places, and no guarantee of that. Otherwise, another fine week in store.
PGA National has produced some memorable tournaments but my experience is that it's a rotten course for anything other than low handicap amateurs. For the pros it will all be about fairways and greens and who putts well on grainy Bermuda.

10).Finally, there was a mixed reception to the Tour's news that the East Lake "nines" would be switched for this year's Tour Championship. One school obviously prefers a challenging final few holes and 16, 17 and the Par-3 18th are certainly that.
But I would contend that "challenging" can sometimes produce sterile golf and finishing on a risk/reward reachable Par-5 seems to me a welcome injection of excitement for what can otherwise be a boring climax to the season.

kwinigolfer

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 2:14 pm

Agree on Dufner, played well in the PC also. Pleased to see him on his way back to his best.

Spieth and Thomas seem good mates - if DLIII reckons he's got some strength in depth I can see him taking a flyer with Thomas even if he doesn't qualify automatically. The turn-of-the-decade crew of Bradley/Mahan/Simpson, even Haas and Watney who've played PC but not Ryder Cup, are becoming yesterday's men.

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Post by GPB on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 2:23 pm

The RC Dinner invited the Top 40 players on the RC list going into Riviera and the Top 40 which included Steele and Bradley.  And it also included the Top 40 after Riviera.

The author of article was Ben Hogan, and I think it was written in Nov 1948.

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Post by McLaren on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 2:25 pm

I don't know about everyone else but I think my views on Bradley have been badly biased by his PGA win. Without that on his CV he is just an also ran among a strong generation of US golfers. For too long I expected him to do what Fowler is now doing.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 2:27 pm

Oh well, got the State and vintage correct. Seemed a bit less terse than I would have expected from Hogan. But at least it made me JFGI for Johnny Palmer about whom I knew next to nothing!
Thanks GPB.


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Post by GPB on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 3:00 pm

No doubt that Johnny Palmer was Ben Hogan's favorite golfing "Palmer".

He was known as great ball-striker during his heyday.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:16 pm

Jim Furyk has turned up in the runners and riders for the Caddy - what's that all about? It'll be interesting to see if his name is still around when the tee-times are published.

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Post by GPB on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:37 pm

Think he can still collect last place (albeit Unofficial) money because he is on the disabled list.

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Post by McLaren on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:43 pm

As long as he doesn't stop someone else getting in.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:50 pm

GPB,
Doesn't he collect "unofficial" loot if he's unable to play anyway?
There's another change in the field but I can't figure out what it is!

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:54 pm

Sangmoon Bae and Jim Furyk are included in the field listing today when they weren't yesterday.

EDIT: Tee times are out. 66 man field, no Furyk or Bae included. The big three will be playing together.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 5:14 pm

Aaah! Thanks for that Grumps!!

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 5:17 pm

I just checked through all the tee times to make sure there were no last minute changes. I didn't look at the field listing before posting the FL event earlier today.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 7:40 pm

GB&I going for the WGC hat-trick this week and here's a nice profile of Russell Knox and his relationship with coach Mike Flemming:

http://www.pgatour.com/long-form/2016/03/01/russell-knox-swing-coach.html

Good stuff from pgatour.com . . . . .

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 8:01 pm

Thanks Kwini, a very interesting read.

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