The Honda Classic – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

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

Tournament Angles

#1 Less-than-Driver Courses
#2 Florida Courses
#3 Windy Rounds
#4 Strong Field Events
#5 Bermuda Greens
#6 Hard-to-Hit Greens

Previous Winners

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

54-Hole Leaders

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

36-Hole Leaders

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 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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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 genes really suit you, don’t you?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
Like eight minutes. Not long at all. -2015

Q. How many times have you played this course?
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?
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

MANDA HERRINGTON: We got a recording welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room at The Honda Classic. This is your sixth straight start here, three consecutive Top-25s. How do you feel about this week?
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?
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]
Completely. I needed some bad putting with the belly putter?? 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?
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?
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?
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?
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 unless otherwise noted.

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