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The Honda Classics

Tournament Preview

With the Masters creeping up a little more than a month from now, the biggest names in the game are trying to round their way into form, starting this weekend with the Honda Classic at the PGA Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The course is a par-70, 7,241 yarder. Michael Thompson is the defending champion.

The trios of John Rollins, Bo Van Pelt and Thomas Bjorn; and Ben Crane, Jeff Maggert and Morgan Hoffmann, are first on the course on Thursday.

The big guns start coming out at 7:25 a.m. when Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald start on the back nine.

At 7:35 a.m., it's Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley and No. 1 Tiger Woods.

At 12:25 p.m., it's Adam Scott, Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy; followed by Graeme McDowell, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson at 12:25 p.m.

02/27/14, Thursday

Apparently, being engaged to one of the most gorgeous women in professional sports is good for the golf game of Rory McIlroy.

The former world No. 1 has made four starts in the current season: finishing 11th at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge; sixth at the HSBC Champions; second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC and ninth at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic since getting engaged to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.

Last year on this course, McIlroy was 7-over and ended up walking off the course in the second round, something he deeply regretted later.

This time he ended the first round 7-under, collecting his birdies in bunches, including three straight from No. 10 to No. 12.

He has a one-stroke lead over America's Russell Henley, and a two-stroke lead over the trio of South Africa's Rory Sabbatini, the US' William McGirt and Wales' Jamie Donaldson.

Henley was 1-under at the turn, then racked up five birdies in a six-hole span to start the back nine.

Masters defending champion Adam Scott is tied for 22nd at 2-under after shooting a 68. British Open champion Phil Mickelson shot an even-par 70 to tie for 57th. Mickelson suffered a double bogey 5 on No. 7.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods is tied for 81st at 1-over after shooting a 71. Woods dug himself an early hole, double bogeying No. 2 and adding bogeys on No. 5 and 8 around two early birdies.

He recovered to fire off eight straight pars, and hit a birdie on No. 18.

02/28/14, Friday

A year after melting down on the course and leaving the tournament mid-round, Rory McIlroy fired a 4-under 66 to move to 11-under for the tournament, leading the Honda Classic after 36 holes by a stroke.

All eyes were on the former No.1 as he started the second round by bogeying two of his first three holes, but he rounded into form and was 6-under on the final 12.

He will have to keep playing very well if he is to hold the lead. His lead is just one stroke over Brandon de Jonge, who fired a low-card 64 on Friday. At 10-under, de Jonge was the only other player in double figures under par after two rounds.

American Russell Henley was third at 8-under after shooting a 68.

Scotland's Russell Knox and England's Lee Westwood ended the day tied for fourth. Knox fired a 63, tying McIlroy's Day One score for the lowest of the tournament so far.

Knox hit seven birdies, including four in a row from No. 9 to No. 13.

Tiger Woods went through another mediocre round, shooting a 1-under 69 to finish the day tied for 66th. Woods hit three birdies and two bogeys on the day.

Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia is tied for 23rd at 3-under after shooting a 69 on Friday.

Woods barely survived the cut which fell at even par, and was more fortunate than British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Mike Weir and 60 others who missed the cut altogether.

03/01/14, Saturday

Rory McIlroy last won a big tournament 18 months ago. He's 18 holes away from breaking that drought.

McIlroy finished Day Three of the Honda Classic in the same place he finished days one and two, atop the leaderboard.

He fired a 1-under 69 to drop to 12-under for the tournament, extending his lead to two strokes over American Russell Henley, who is the only other player in double-digit strokes under par at 10-under.

McIlroy was 2-under after three holes, but bogeyed No. 6 and 7 back to back. He had another bogey on No. 14, but sandwiched a pair of birdies around it.

Henley was a stroke over par through the first nine, but got back into the swing of things with two birdies and an eagle on the back nine.

Scotland's Russell Knox moved up from fourth to third with a 2-under 68 to drop to 9-under. The big movers on the day were Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas, Australia's Stuary Appleby and the US' Keegan Bradley.

Vegas fired a 66 to get to 8-under, while Appleby and Bradley are tied for fifth at 7-under along with Luke Donald and Ryan Palmer.

Appleby and Matt Every tied for the best round of the day, a pair of 5-under 65s. Also enjoying a 5-under 65 was world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who used the strong round to catapult himself from a tie for 66th to a far more respectable tie for 17th.

Woods had two bogeys and three birdies on the front nine, then rattled off four birdies on the first six holes of the back nine to get back into the Top 20.
 Tournament Recap

It was a different kind of collapse for Rory McIlroy this year at the Honda Classic. In some ways, a more disappointing one.

Sitting at 12-under through 54 holes, McIlroy struggled to a 4-over 74 on Sunday, falling into a four-way playoff with Americans Russell Henley and Ryan Palmer, along with Scotland's Russell Knox.

Of the four, Henley was the only man to notch a birdie on the first playoff hole to win the tournament, 500 FedEx Cup points and $1,080,000 in prize money.

Of the four men in the playoff, only Palmer was under par on the final day, shooting a 1-under 69.

Henley was 2-over and Knox 1-over on Sunday.

McIlroy was at 1-under through the first five holes, but bogeyed No. 7, 9 and 12 to get into trouble. He lost the lead completely when he doubled No. 16 and bogeyed No. 17 before finally responding with a birdie on No. 18 to get into the playoff.

Henley had the best chance to win the title outright. He was at even par thanks to back-to-back birdies on No. 13 and 14 before doubling No. 15.

Knox also was burned by a double. He was 1-under after four holes, then hit nine straight pars before doubling No. 14. He closed the round with four more pars.

Palmer started off hot, three birdies in his first four holes, and was still at 3-under through 15 holes before bogeying No. 16 and 18.

American Billy Hurley III just missed narrowly missed making it a five-man playoff, birdying No. 18 to finish at 7-under with a 69.

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