PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
7,140 yards – Par 70 – TifEagle Bermudagrass Greens
Tournament Stimpmeter: 11.5 ft. … Average Speed
Green Sizes: 6,400 sq. feet … Average Green Sizes
Difficulty (Relative to Par): +1.5 … Difficult Course
Strength of Field Rating: 400+ … Strong Field
Fairways Hit (Field Average): ~60% … Harder Fairways to Hit
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): ~60% … Very Difficult Greens to Hit
Driving Distance (Field Average): 271 yards … Less-than-Driver Course
2017: Rickie Fowler -12 over Morgan Hoffmann, Gary Woodland -8
2016: Adam Scott -9 over Sergio Garcia -8
2015: Padraig Harrington -6 over Daniel Berger in a playoff
2014: Russell Henley -8 over Ryan Palmer, Russell Knox, Rory McIlroy in a playoff
2013: Michael Thompson -9 over Geoff Ogilvy -7
2012: Rory McIlroy -12 over Tiger Woods, Tom Gillis -10
2011: Rory Sabbatini -9 over Y.E. Yang -8
2010: Camilo Villegas -13 over Anthony Kim -8
2017: Rickie Fowler -13
2016: Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott -9
2015: Ian Poulter -9
2014: Rory McIlroy -12
2013: Michael Thompson, Luke Guthrie -8
2012: Rory McIlroy -11
2011: Roby Sabbatini -9
2010: Camilo Villegas -11
2017: Wesley Bryan, Ryan Palmer -9
2016: Rickie Fowler -8
2015: Padraig Harrington -7
2014: Rory McIlroy -11
2013: Luke Guthrie -9
2012: Tom Gillis, Justin Rose -8
2011: Kyle Stanley -6
2010: Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim -8
Important Interview Quotes
Q. You live in the area, so you know what the golf course is like. Today’s 66, what is it about this course that suits you so well?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I feel like it’s definitely a ball-striking golf course because keep the ball in front of you, hit the fairways, you give yourself a chance to hit the greens, so you’ve got to kind of piece your way around the golf course. You can’t really overpower it too much. There’s a lot of holes where you’re hitting less than driver off the tee, and short game’s been very good, as of late, so it’s making things easier when I do get into trouble to save myself. -2017
Q. As the TOUR makes its way to the West Coast, what is it the biggest difference, biggest challenge for you guys as you make your way from California to Florida?
RICKIE FOWLER: It’s almost kind of nice to be back here, since I’ve lived here for almost seven years now. Being back on surfaces that I’m used to now. I feel like I’ve struggled on the West Coast the past few years, for sure. I don’t really count Phoenix as the West Coast just because it’s similar to what we are playing down here green-wise.
So it’s nice being here. Get to sleep in my own bed, a lot of friends and family around. It’s good. Nice the weather moved through yesterday and we have great weather for the week. -2017
Q. Your driver was really good. You were in the fairway a lot?
BEN CRANE: Yeah, that’s the thing on this golf course. It’s really not a bomber’s golf course because the rough is so thick, so you’ve really got to put the ball in play and give yourself chances, especially today because we had so much rain yesterday. Ball-in-hand, so it’s extra incentive to put the ball in play and get the ball on the greens.
It’s a very challenging golf course, so greens in regulation works and the greens are pure. So if you’re putting well, you’re going to make some putts, which I did today. -2017
Q. Tied for fourth a week ago. You reference sort of continuing that. How much is it momentum, from Riviera to here, that you now feel maybe a little more comfortable?
WESLEY BRYAN: I think the comfort out here this week, yeah, I got into some pretty good form but out here on the golf course, I got through Q-School just about 14 months ago, and a place that I’m comfortable at and a golf course I know. They are few and far between out here — it’s my first run at all these tournaments out here. I love this place, love this golf course. Had a great day. -2017
Q. This isn’t an easy golf course but you say you love the golf course. Why is that?
WESLEY BRYAN: It’s so tricky and challenging around the greens. It’s a big, long golf course, tight fairways, and most of the teeth come from really 30 or 40 yards and in. It’s a place, like I said, 14 months ago at Q-School, was able to navigate it and finished Top-10 that week, and just kind of continued that play today. -2017
Q. The Bear Trap, birdie, birdie, bogey, so 1-under through those holes which is very good, and level par today. Under par for two days around here; how aware are you of a thing called the Bear Trap, or is it just three holes in a run of 18?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: No, I actually quite enjoy playing the Bear Trap because it sets up nicely for me. I hit a draw and it leaves the two par 3s, that’s probably your better ball flight, and I can be aggressive on some of those pin positions, like it was back on 15 yesterday and took advantage of that. I think it sets up very well for me. -2017
Q. How much are you enjoying your PGA TOUR adventure?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: It’s fun. It’s beginning to feel like home. I’m sleeping in my own bed. I’m just down the road here in PGA National.
I live here. I don’t play regularly out here but I do live here. So it feels like a home event. -2017
Q. You said the bermudarough, it’s new to you and you never know how it’s going to come out?
TYRRELL HATTON: It frustrates me so much. It’s so inconsistent. Hopefully I can hit 18 greens tomorrow. -2017
Q. You seem to have struggled a bit with chipping out of the bermudarough. I saw a couple times, you got upset about the result.
TYRRELL HATTON: Just it frustrates me a little bit. I find it really inconsistent. Sometimes it will come out soft and go like three feet in front of you, and you haven’t sort of made a bad swing, kind of thing.
The next one, you do exactly the same and it will come out hot and goes like 15 feet past the hole. So it’s just maybe I’m not used to it but at the moment it frustrates me a little bit. -2017
Q. Is this a golf course you’re pretty comfortable on?
EMILIANO GRILLO: I played a few times here as a junior and an amateur, now late last year, it’s completely different. We used to play here November and this is probably the most difficult time of the year to play out here in Florida. You just have to hit it well. Every golf course, you have to hit it well. -2017
Q. Is this a course you feel comfortable on?
EMILIANO GRILLO: Yeah, definitely. If I can play this tournament every single week of the year, I’d be happy to. I like tournaments when you are going to be close with single digits. That shows the golf course plays a bit harder than the other ones. Unfortunately I don’t putt as well as I would like, so I’m working towards there, and when I get there, I’m going to like the other golf course too. -2017
Q. How much did you play the Champion growing up?
DANIEL BERGER: I played it a lot in junior golf. I played it a lot in amateur golf. But like since I’ve turned pro, I think I’ve played it, other than the two years of The Honda Classic, one other time. So the memories are still there, obviously, from junior golf, the Polo Junior Classic and things like that. But other than that, they get a lot of rounds out here, so it’s tough to get out here. -2017
Q. You told me the other day, you really love this place because it putts the emphasis on ball-striking. How does that combination work well for you with the mind-set of playing well at a place you like?
MARTIN KAYMER: …You really have to think your way around the golf course. And the wind, usually when it’s up, it’s very difficult to play. And I enjoy that where you stand on the first tee and you don’t feel like you’re already four or five shots behind, because you need to make birdies. Even level par or 1-under par is a good score on this golf course. -2017
Q. This tournament has a strong history of a lot of European players. How attractive is that to you? Are you finding a lot of Europeans here, and how attractive is that to you?
THOMAS PIETERS: It must be the weather and the toughness of the course maybe. We play a lot of tournaments where you might win with a couple under par or nine or ten, and we very rarely are at tournaments where you have to shoot 25-under par and I feel like that happens more over here.
I’m not saying it’s easier over here or anything. I think the courses are set up a lot different but we play maybe in a lot of worse weather than these guys do. And maybe we’re just used to a lot of wind and tough conditions I think. -2017
Q. Is there something about lefties, the way it sets up?
BRIAN HARMAN: I don’t know, the course definitely fits my eye for whatever reason. Usually feel pretty comfortable here. I don’t know if it’s a lefty thing or not.
I think it has more to do with the individual player. I’m sure there’s places that Phil loves that I don’t and there’s places that I love that Phil doesn’t. Everyone’s got their own style and has their own way that they like seeing things. Who knows. -2017
Q. How does compare to Sanderson?
CODY GRIBBLE: It’s bermudagreens, high rough. It’s similar. -2017
Q. You said you played Q-School here?
CODY GRIBBLE: I finished eighth here. That was my first year to make it to the final stage. So it was great. Played well here. Played well again. Maybe my driver was a little better that day. I’m a great driver of the ball. -2017
Q. Something about this place that works better for a lefty?
CODY GRIBBLE: Like I said earlier, a left-to-right ball flight I think helps, but on some of those holes, the last three, four holes — but you’ve still got to step up and hit the shot. 14 today, hit a great drive and we still have 200 in. Left-to-right ball flight helps a little bit. But there’s also holes out there that with the pin placements, it’s going to be right-to-left. -2017
Q. You mentioned you love this golf course, for good reason, a winner here three years ago. What is it about this place that seemingly brings out the best in you?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I just think it’s pretty simple in the sense of, you know where you’ve got to hit it. You have to hit fairways in order to give yourself a chance to go for the greens. The rough isn’t as thick this year as it has been in the past. So there’s a little bit of wiggle room there.
But you’ve just got to hit solid golf shots and when the wind starts blowing, it’s anybody’s ballgame. It really brings out the players who are the most patient and willing to continue to fight even through a few bogeys here or there. -2016
Q. How difficult is it to putt when the wind is this strong?
PHIL MICKELSON: It’s very difficult. The speed downwind or into the wind, when the greens are this fast, is significant. It’s very significant, and the crosswinds will actually push a ball from breaking an inch or two one way to breaking an inch or two another way. So you are constantly having to gauge the break, as well as the wind. Those four-, five-, six-footers, it makes it very challenging. -2016
Q. Is that one of the things you were working on?
GEORGE McNEILL: I haven’t made a putt in two years, so it kind of felt good to see them go in and consistently go in and stuff like that, I didn’t expect to make that many. But it was nice.
Of course, being back in Florida, I feel a little more comfortable, back on bermudagrass and bermudagreens. The stuff out west, I can’t putt out there. Being back in Florida, it helps. -2016
Q. What about the switch from West Coast poa, etc., to this?
WILLIAM McGIRT: I’ve never been so happy to see grainy bermuda.
It was kind of funny, Sunday I had about an 8-footer on 10 starting out. It jumped straight in the air as soon as I made contact. And I looked at Brandon after I walked off the green and I said, “Well, there’s good news in this,” I said, “17 more holes and we get to go to grainy bermuda, I can’t wait.”
I’m just glad to be back in some warm weather and some humidity and on bermudagrass. -2016
Q. Good thing playing at home, a lot of distractions, or is sleeping in your own bed a good thing?
BROOKS KOEPKA: There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad to it. Obviously sleeping in your own bed is nice. You don’t get to do that too often, but it is weird sleeping in your own bed and getting up for a tee time. It’s fun. I enjoy this week. -2016
Q. You hit 13 of 18 greens, and the other guys, like nine or ten, so ball-striking wise in these conditions, you have to be pleased with that, too.
JASON DUFNER: It’s a good fit for me. Generally speaking I play pretty good here. I think the ball-striker have a little bit of an advantage being able to control your ball in that wind, work it against it or work it with it and keep it out of that wind. I grew up down here so I’m pleased to playing in this type of weather. -2016
Q. You’re a southern guy, so these greens really suit you, don’t you?
HUDSON SWAFFORD: Absolutely, yeah. This is what I grew up on. This is what I played — well, I guess we were bent in Athens, but there was a lot of places that had bermuda. Growing up, you live on bermuda. -2016
Q. Do you enjoy the challenge, especially the wind? It seems to maybe give you an advantage, because you’re so well suited to playing.
SERGIO GARCIA: I’ve always enjoyed playing with wind. I’d rather play with wind than with rain. Yeah, I enjoy the challenge of windy days. Obviously windy days are playable, but I’ve always seemed to do fairly well when the wind is up. -2016
Q. I think most people know you as a California guy, but you’ve lived out here and played a lot of golf out here, so you’re comfortable in these kind of conditions and these kind of greens, aren’t you?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, growing up at home in California, I got to play in the a lot in the wind growing up, ten to 15 miles an hour and playing the two years I did at Oklahoma State, got to test out some stronger wins, and I’ve been living down here for over five years.
As far as conditions, the wind, the grass types and how the courses play here, I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it. -2016
Q. We didn’t see many putts made in the afternoon. Did you find the greens choppy at all?
BLAYNE BARBER: These greens are perfect. I love putting on bermuda. It’s great to be back in Florida, where I’m from. There’s just so much play on them that in the afternoon, they weren’t bumpy as much as kind of crisp and you really had to get your line. They are still putting great. -2016
Q. Is this week getting back closer to home, serve as a bit of a re-set for you after the West Coast?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess so. I never really thought of it that way. It’s nice being able to stay at home and not have to pack all this different stuff. I’ve got all my stuff there and I have the local spots I want to go eat at or get in my routine of places that I usually go.
It’s nice more than anything being able to sleep in my own bed. -2016
Q. The last two Honda winners, you and Michael Thompson both came in here having missed three cuts in the previous four weeks. I know you played really well at Riviera on Friday. But can you explain how guys go from not playing well to all of a sudden you’re able to win?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I think it might have something to do with getting back to the bermudagrass. I feel like whenever I play Riviera, I’m uncomfortable. I’ve made the cut one time there of the three times. I love the course. I love the atmosphere. I want to play well there obviously.
But I’m just not super comfortable on that course yet. And I think this year, although it didn’t show, I at least felt like I got to know the course a little bit better, and I feel like next year I’m going to be a little bit more prepared. I just feel like that’s how it is sometimes, and I think Michael played a lot of bermudagrass probably growing up.
You know, maybe that’s it. But you know, those West Coast tournaments can be brutal. I feel like those greens are really hard to putt on, and they are not easy courses.
Torrey Pines is not easy, and I’d say Pebble with the weather, usually predicts what the scores are going to be. -2015
MARK STEVENS: We’d like to welcome Brooks Koepka. You got your first win on the PGA TOUR a couple weeks ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and returned home this week to The Honda Classic. Just talk about your thoughts coming into the Honda this year and playing in front of a home crowd.
BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, first off, playing in front of a home crowd is special. You don’t get to do that very often. Especially here at PGA National, family is here, a bunch of friends, things like that.
It’s special for me, and especially since I’ve been playing well, it’s kind of neat to come back. -2015
Q. How do you feel about being back on the Champions Course, I know you played yesterday, so you got to see what it looks like. Are you glad to be playing in Florida back on bermudagrass?
DANIEL BERGER: I think it’s nice to sleep in my own bed and hang out at my house and eat food with my family. I was gone for five weeks on the West Coast, so to have this week home, it doesn’t feel like a week off obviously but it feels nice to be comfortable and doing things that I would normally do when I’m back home. -2015
Q. Just about playing golf in Florida on a Florida course?
DANIEL BERGER: I’m used to the greens. I’m used to the rough. So I’m used to it being windy. Hopefully it blows out here. That will play to my advantage. I’m just going to have some fun. -2015
Q. How long does it take you to get here?
DANIEL BERGER: Like eight minutes. Not long at all. -2015
Q. How many times have you played this course?
DANIEL BERGER: I would say in my life probably 25 times. Not recently since they have done some changes to the course but overall, you can kind of get the feel of what it’s been like. -2015
Q. Why do you enjoy the hard track?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, because there’s a reason why I sit on the driving range to hit the ball fairly straight and try to hit certain shots and not just spray it all over the place and get it somewhere up-and-down where it’s only a putting competition.
I like a golf course where you have to hit the ball fairly straight, where you have to manage the golf course, where it’s not always driver from the tee box where you need to take some bunkers or waters out of play.
So I enjoy that, where you have to think a little more instead of just hitting driver and bomb it down every single time and see where you are, just get it close to the green. And that is why I enjoy more tough courses. -2015
Q. This is your sixth straight start here, three consecutive Top-25s. How do you feel about this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: Feeling great. Obviously this is kind of my second home. I’ve been a resident down here in South Florida in Jupiter for, I guess five years now. So it’s nice to be sleeping in my own bed, being at home, some home cooking. -2015
Q. Had you played the course before?
BRENDAN STEELE: This is my fifth time here. I’ve been here quite a bit. I’ve made the cut every year here, but I’ve never had really any high finishes. Being a West Coast guy, I’m still getting used to Florida, and I seem to get better and better every year. -2015
Q. So it was pretty much cold turkey? [reference to abandoning belly-putter]
BRENDAN STEELE: Completely. I played the U.S. Open qualifier and I putted so bad that I was just like, I wanted to throw it in the weeds. So I went home and picked that one up and it just felt way better. My speed is way better, my touch is way better. And working with Chris on my fundamentals, making sure setup is square, path is square and after that, you’re just trying to roll it down your line. Make it a little more simple. -2015
[Steele also mentioned not touching belly putter for eight months (June of 2014)]
Q. Expecting more wind and rain, what will those conditions do to the golf course?
ZACH JOHNSON: Obviously we expect wind here. It’s South Florida and that’s the norm. If we get some rain, the course will soften a little bit. The greens are still receptive, so in that regard, that just makes it softer. It’s nice getting a little bit of roll in the fairway. It’s nice seeing that. We rarely have that here. They took away the overseed and kept the bermuda. It will just be a little bit easier as far as shot-making goes. -2015
Q. Do you have any idea how many rounds you’ve played on this course and how different it is now beyond the par difference, but just how different the course plays than when you’re used to playing?
JIM HERMAN: Seems like I play here every winter about one time. But I’ve logged, you know, 20 to 25 rounds here in the last ten years or so. I moved down in 2001, played the Golden Bear Tour for four years. We played the Champ and the Hague it seemed like every other week. -2015
Q. What were the highest wind speeds do you think during your round?
JAMIE DONALDSON: I think it gusted up to about 50 miles an hour. Definitely felt like that; at times, you had 160 and it was playing 200, 210. It was really difficult in places that’s as hard as I’ve seen it here. So it was nice to come in with 2-under par. -2015
Q. You’re close to Trump Doral. Is there good MoJo just coming this way?
PATRICK REED: I guess so (smiling). I can’t really say we’ve played well here but we’ve always made the cut. We’re always glad to be back.
It just seems like when the wind is blowing here, it allows me to get creative and hit more of my shot-shaping shots I normally hit.
You know, it’s fun golf and especially with the weather with how it’s been, it’s playing how I like this golf course to play -2015
All quotes from ASAPsports.com unless otherwise noted.
2017: Lift, Clean, and Place used in R1 and R2.
2015: Lift, Clean, and Place used in R3 and R4.
2014: Lift, Clean, and Place used in R1 and R2.