The 2016 Honda Classic is now in the books and it did not disappoint. Before we look forward to next week’s WGC-Cadillac Championships at Doral, let’s take a look back at 10 big takeaways from this past weekend, starting with winner Adam Scott.
Adam Scott back on top
Nobody in the world is playing better golf than Adam Scott right now. He entered the week riding a great hot streak and claimed victory, reminding everyone of why he was the No. 1 ranked player in the world not even two years ago.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 28, 2016
The fact that he struggled so badly at the 15th hole on Saturday but still came to win only makes Scott look better. He entered the hole with a commanding lead and left with a deficit.
That could have been a killer. However, Scott was mentally strong enough to not only fight through the rest of the round on Saturday, but he also hit a fine tee shot on Sunday on the same hole when nursing a one-shot lead. With the victory, Scott became the 10th different man to win the Honda Classic since 2007, which was when it moved to PGA National.
With the Masters a little more than a month away, the 2013 champion is rounding into form at the right time.
Sergio Garcia is still good, but can he close?
The week for Sergio Garcia could best be described as bittersweet. He contended all week, finishing in second place behind Scott, but second place came with some missed opportunities.
On Sunday, Scott entered The Bear Trap of 15, 16, and 17 with a one-shot lead over Garcia. While his Sunday performance was better than Saturday’s, Scott played the three holes at one-over par. It would have been a great opportunity for Garcia to tie Scott, or even take a lead heading into 18.
Instead, Scott’s lead over Garcia actually increased, as the Spaniard played the three holes at two-over par.
Garcia had the honor on all three Bear Trap holes, which includes two par-three’s. A good tee shot on 15 or 17 would have applied pressure to Scott. No dice.
Sergio showed that he absolutely has the game to win on tour, but he missed a great opportunity to do just that this weekend.
Rough week for Rory McIlroy
On the other end of Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia was Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut. Now, what does that mean going forward?
Really, it means nothing. McIlroy is in the field next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and it would not be remotely surprising if he won and won going away.
McIlroy is one of the best golfers in the world, and having a bad week doesn’t amount to much more than it would if Steph Curry went 2-14 from the field, or if Mike Trout took an 0-5 with four strikeouts. Sure, it won’t make his personal highlight reel, but it doesn’t really mean anything more than that when looking at the long term.
What it does do is give some credence to what Phil Mickelson recently said to Ryan Asselta of Golf.com.
“There is nobody in the game of golf that I have seen that is remotely close to the level of performance Tiger was in his prime.”
Indeed, from 1998-2005, Tiger Woods made 142 consecutive cuts. He didn’t always win, but he always played the weekend, something Jordan Spieth failed to do at the Northern Trust Open last week and McIlroy failed to do this week.
Great players, for sure, but a long way from what Tiger was in his prime.
Slowed momentum for Phil Mickelson
While we’re on the subject of Lefty, Mickelson didn’t follow up on a pretty darn good run through Arizona and California, making the cut on the number and never contending at PGA National.
Mickelson’s most troubling round this week was the second. After a decent opening round of one-under, Mickelson shot a four-over 74 on Friday. Worse than that was the fact that the notorious gunslinger failed to make a single birdie.
We won’t have to wait long to see if it was just a bad week for Phil Mickelson or if his strong early season performances were the outliers. Mickelson is also in the field next week, and he has a solid history at Doral that includes a win in 2009.
What happened to Rickie Fowler?
We learned something new about Rickie Fowler. He has an evil, identical twin. He has to. That’s the only possible explanation for what happened to Fowler over the weekend.
Fowler’s first two rounds were a thing of beauty, recording a pair of 66’s without making a bogey.
Back-to-back 66s, Rickie?
You bet. https://t.co/4YKl0J69jf
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 26, 2016
He carried a lead into the weekend and had the ability to make the final rounds rather boring with a strong showing Saturday. Instead, Fowler turned in his own birdie-free round of 74 in the third round, effectively playing himself out of the tournament.
Like McIlroy, it’s hard to read too much into a bad couple of rounds for a golfer of Fowler’s caliber, but this is the second tournament in a row where he was in contention and failed to close. If Fowler is to win a major this year (or any year), that can’t become a trend.
Bad weekend for Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker entered Saturday in the final pairing with Fowler, only one stroke behind the 36-hole leader. But as bad as Fowler’s third round was, he left his playing competitor in the dust. Walker unbelievably shot a 79.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming before Walker’s round began.
"Please welcome … Jimmy Fowler."
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 27, 2016
Not a good start to what was a dismal weekend for Walker, as he backed Saturday’s 79 up with a 72 on Sunday.
Another strong week from Sung Kang
Sung Kang wasn’t exactly a household name three weeks ago. His playing partner at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Ray Romano, didn’t know who he was before the tournament began. Given that Kang had missed three cuts in the three weeks before Pebble Beach, it’s safe to say that not many did.
Well, in Monterey, Kang nearly shot a 59 in the second round and ended up in a solid tie for 17th. Kang followed that up with a tie for eighth last week at the Northern Trust Open and turned in another solid week at the 2016 Honda Classic, tying for 10th place.
Keep an eye on this guy for the next few weeks. He has some work to do, but if Kang qualifies for Augusta, you could do a lot worse than the Korean as a sleeper in your Masters pools.
Ageless Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh was not a young golfer in 2004 and 2005 when he and Tiger Woods were battling to be the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world.
Here we are, more than a decade later, and while Singh is no longer a highly ranked player he showed that he can still contend in a tournament with some of the best players in the world.
Singh was even-par or better in all four rounds of the Honda Classic, shooting a 69-70-68-70 to finish at three-under.
Not bad for a guy who turned 53 in February.
Watch out for Justin Thomas
The 23-year-old American entered the 2016 Honda Classic ranked sixth in the FedEx Cup standings, and he showed that he may be at or near the top of the list for a while to come.
He shot three 69’s and a 68 this week and finished with Blayne Barber in a tie for third. The youngster did fall short of winning, but Thomas is definitely a name to remember as we head into the beef of the PGA Tour season.
PGA National’s 15th, 16th, and 17th, holes, or The Bear Trap, make for about as hard of a three-hole stretch as the PGA Tour has to offer.
This is annually one of the best stops on the PGA Tour schedule, and these three holes are a big reason why.