If you love golf, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting stretch of tournament play than the last two weeks at the Northern Trust Open and the Honda Classic.
Last Sunday, world No. 297 James Hahn defeated Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a playoff at Riviera to capture his first PGA Tour win. Monday, Padraig Harrington ended a seven year PGA Tour drought, also winning in a playoff over Daniel Berger at PGA National. Harrington, a three time major winner, needed a birdie on 18 to tie Berger at 6-under.
The golf schedule only gets better from here. On Thursday, the WGC-Cadillac Championship tees off at Doral, the first of the years four World Golf Championships.
Before we look ahead, let’s take a look at the top 5 lessons learned from the Honda Classic.
1. It rains in Florida…a lot
The weather at PGA National was something else this weekend. On Saturday, the third round was suspended for the day at 2:51 p.m due to monsoon like conditions. While the Tour originally intended to resume at 7 a.m. on Sunday, it backed up the time to 10 a.m. after further evaluation of the course.
After a pair of lengthy delays pushed the completion of the second round into Saturday morning, the third round was halted at 12:51 p.m. ET less than an hour after it began.
So in case you didn’t know before, it rains in Florida…a lot.
2. Rory McIlroy is pissed off, but he’ll be fine
After shooting rounds of 73 and 74, McIlroy was asked if it bothered him, to have missed the cut.
“Yeah, I’m pissed off,” he said. “I think it’s been since the Open in ’13, the last time I missed a cut. I don’t like missing cuts. You want to be playing on the weekend, and I’m not there. I’m not going to be playing this weekend, which is not nice.”
The Honda Classic was McIlroy’s first PGA Tour event of the season. The windy conditions clearly seemed to affect his game and he was never able to get on track after a double bogey on the first hole Thursday.
Is it really a big deal that he missed the cut? Not really. Any player can have a bad round or two. If anything, it makes Tiger Woods tour record 142 consecutive cuts made look even more impressive. But McIlroy will be fine – he’s the best golfer on the planet and all that matters is that he’s ready for Augusta.
3. It’s good to be ranked 297th in the world
Talk about all-time coincidences. When Hahn won at Riviera last week, he was ranked 297th in the world. When Harrington took home the trophy today, he too was ranked 297th in the world. Is it too early to crown the next 297th ranked golfer as the winner of this week’s Puerto Rico Open? Guess we’ll find out when the next World Golf Rankings are updated.
4. It’s more fun with the Europeans
The Honda Classic is the first tournament of the year that features an influx of the best from across the pond. In addition to McIlroy, Casey and Harrington, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Jamie Donaldson (among others) made their first PGA Tour appearance of the season.
It’s simple – the better players in the field – the more exciting it is for viewers at home to watch. The WGC-Cadillac Championship this week invites the world’s top 50 players, which means we’ll once again be treated to some great golf.
5. It’s good to see Padraig Harrington winning
At 43-years-old, Padraig Harrington isn’t done just yet. In 2008, Harrington won The Open Championship and PGA Championship back-to-back. His next win on tour? Today, at the Honda Classic. The Dublin native has really struggled the past two years. On 1 December 2014, his World Golf Ranking was an 18 year low 385.
The three time major winner has always been one of the good guys on tour. Harrington has been a global ambassador for the Special Olympics since 2010. It’s good to see Paddy winning a major golf event again. Let’s hope we’re not forced to wait seven years for the next one.