The Ups-and-Downs and ‘WOW’ of the Honda Classic
~by Amy Lignor
For those who haven’t missed a day, the Honda Classic certainly gave fans everything from anger to confusion to downright disbelief, as a pro golfer came from nowhere and took the title with a ‘collegiate’ smile.
The Honda Classic has moved so many times, this particular game’s scoreboard of up and down players actually felt as if it mirrored how many moves the Classic has had. Originally played in Lauderhill, Florida, the Classic was moved in 1984 to Coral Springs, Florida. 1992 through 1995 saw the event held in Weston, Florida, before returning to Coral Springs. This was not the end of the moves; many places were hosts until 2007 came to pass. The PGA National Golf Club’s Champion Course remains its home.
Not only is the Classic regarded as an event that golf fans and participants look forward to every year, but it’s even more special because the great golfing legend, Jack Nicklaus, and his Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, is part of the background of this amazing contest.
The ups-and-downs continued each and every day of the Classic. Tiger Woods, the name everyone seems to want to talk about, had a good start. He was consistent, but finished well back of the leaders.
Solid tee shots started on the back nine for Tiger, with fans watching him make par on his first eight holes. The front nine, however, was not so pretty to watch – offering a double bogey on the second hole which basically took Tiger away from finishing below par. Instead, after the day was over, Tiger walked away at one over par with far, far more playtime to come. Which means…Tiger Woods came back and won!? Nope. Sorry. He not only didn’t win; but he walked off the green and left the tournament on the very last day with back spasms.
The other name everyone was watching was Rory McIlroy, whose history in the Honda Classic is more than successful. After opening with a bogey-free 63, McIlroy looked as good as gold. Henley opened with five birdies and ended with a 64; and Sabbatini, McGirt and Donaldson – all past champions – claimed a three-way-tie with 65.
Zach Johnson really had ups-and-downs right off the bat, owning a 67 before hitting the water twice. However, all is never lost in golf, seeing as that he came back with gusto to achieve seven birdies allowing him back into the pack.
Days went by and it still looked as if it was McIlroy’s time in the sun, yet again. This is the player who won two majors by eight shots each. A few great putts became part of his game, a few par saves for some excitement, and a birdie on the almost 500-yard 10th hole, before making more miracles on 11 and 12.
Yes, he has a bit of a background that’s negative, but we won’t talk about last year and the anxiety and anger that got to McIlroy back then. This is 2014, after all. So…McIlroy won!? Nope. Sorry. He didn’t. Although he did not walk off the field (this was Tiger’s year for that), he claimed second place.
What happened was this…first hole…4-man playoff…BAM! Russell Henley deflates Rory’s ego, surprises many, and wears a smile so big and bright you could see it from the moon! Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer were also a bit upset and shocked, but what had looked like Rory’s victory pretty much the whole way through, ended up in the hands of Henley who, before this, had only one PGA tour win.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.
Until Next Time, Everybody,