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THE HONDA CLASSIC
Adam Scott, winner of the 2016 Honda Classic
Jason Myers Photography
A Record Win at The Honda Classic By CRAIG DOLCH If a golf course can be judged by the winner it produces, PGA National Resort & Spa’s The Champion course certainly lived up to its name in the 2016 Honda Classic. With record crowds watching, former Masters champion Adam Scott scored a oneshot victory over Sergio Garcia in the 10th Honda held at the world-class resort. Scott’s final round of even-par 70 left him at 9-under 271 after four trips around the daunting, Jack Nicklaus-designed course. Both Scott (No. 19) and Garcia (No. 18) started the week in the top 20 in the world rankings, and Scott moved into the top 10 afterward. It was the Aussie’s 12th career PGA Tour victory – his first since the 2014 Colonial – and no player on the PGA Tour under the age of 40 has won more. When his 2-foot par dropped, Scott let out a deep breath as the crowd around the 18th green roared its approval. “It was certainly a sense of relief to win again,” Scott said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher to win out here.” The Champion maintained its reputation for toughness. It marked the eighth time in 10
PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA
years the winning score at The Champion has been single-digits under par (the average winning score is 8.6-under par). “It wasn’t easy, but that’s to be expected,” Scott said. “This is a tough track.” Fourth-ranked Rickie Fowler started the week strongly, becoming the first player to finish the first 36 holes without a bogey. He settled for a sixth-place tie, giving Honda three players inside the top 20 atop its leader board. Scott appeared to be coasting to victory Saturday until the Bear Trap took another victim. Scott was 7-under through 14 holes and had a three-shot lead over Garcia – until Scott dumped two balls in the water at No. 15 and made a quadruple bogey. When Scott held on for the victory, he became the first player to do so on the PGA Tour with a quad on his card since Phil Mickelson in 2009. “I never dreamed that these holes were going to play so difficult coming down the stretch,” said Nicklaus, who re-designed The Champion course. “If you’re going to have a Bear Trap, you might as well have a nice trap.” Scott became the first player to win
after having to convert from the anchored putter to a shorter model, thanks to the USGA’s rule change Jan. 1. It took him just three starts do so. “Adam deserved it,” Garcia said. “He played better than me. I played with him the last two days, and he looked awesome.” So did The Champion Course. Before the first meaningful shot was struck, the players were raving about the conditions. “The course is looking really good,” Rory McIlroy said after his pro-am round. “It’s looking as good as it has ever looked.” That was quite a compliment to Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy. The resort had been hit by 22 inches of rain during the previous six weeks – the average rainfall this time of year is 4 inches – but you would have never known it by the way it looked during tournament week. “We're proud of the way the course played,” Nelson said. Nelson and his staff set the stage on The Champion course, allowing the world’s best players to shine. In the end, Adam Scott was the brightest star.