Rory And Tiger Ready For Classic Showdown

Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/AAP
Rory McIlroy overcame Tiger Woods by two shots in this event last year. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/AAP
It has been six years since an American last won the Honda Classic, and that was Mark Wilson , who this year has missed the cut in three of his five starts. The chances of a homegrown victor improved dramatically when Tiger Woods committed to playing in the event last month. He closed with a stunning 62 last year to finish two shots behind eventual winner Rory McIlroy .

The Northern Irishman claimed the world No. 1 ranking with victory at the PGA National course last year. The last time he and Woods played in the same event, they both missed the cut in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship in January. McIlroy has played limited golf this year, and was knocked out in the first round of the WGC Match Play Championship last week.

Prior to last year’s appearance, Woods hadn’t played in the Honda Classic since he was a 17-year-old amateur. Before losing in the first round at Dove Mountain last week, Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open, so he takes good form in to the first tournament on the sunshine swing in Florida.

South African Charl Schwartzel looks to be the big two’s main danger. He hasn’t finished worse than 5th in his last seven starts in strokeplay events, and that run includes two wins. He tied for 5th at the Honda Classic in 2012 alongside Justin Rose . The Englishman has a reputation for not finishing atop the leaderboard at big events, but he shot a then course record-equalling 64 in the final round in 2010 to finish third behind surprise winner, Colombian Camilo Villegas .

Swede Fredrik Jacobson is another one to watch. He has finished top 10 in his past two stroke events, and won his first two matches in the match play event last week. His record at PGA National includes a tie for 5th in 2009, equal 6th the year after before he tied for 16th last year. He has only won once on the PGA Tour in over 200 starts, though. Brian Harman is an interesting longshot after breaking the course record by three shots when he carded a stunning 61 at PGA National last year. 

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