2008 Honda Classic Review and Tour Notes
by Matt of Predictem.com
The winds blew and the scores went northward at the Honda Classic, but Ernie Els battled from behind to take top honors in Palm Beach, FL, his first PGA victory in over three years.
Els raised the trophy for the first time since the 2004 WGC-CA Championship in Ireland, a span of 47 Tour events.
The “Big Easy” began the day 3 strokes behind a trio of golfers but fired a sensational final round 3-under 67 to push ahead of the field and gain the victory. Els birdied 4 of his first 7 holes and tallied only one bogey on the day en route to a 72 hole total of 6-under 274 and cashing the winner’s check of $990,000.
Mark Calcavecchia was one of the three ahead of Els and stood on the 15th tee tied for the lead, but a double bogey on the par-3 derailed any chance for the win. Calc finished at 3-under 277 in a tie for 4th along with Matt Jones and Robert Allenby.
Luke Donald also started the day tied for the lead and also failed to stay ahead of Els. Donald started the tournament off with a 6-under 64 on Thursday, the low round of the event, but followed with a second round 74 to fall back. A third round 66 had him back in position for the win, but a 1-over finish was not enough to get the job done. Donald had a chip attempt on 18 to tie Els, but the shot finished just short of the jar, leaving Luke in second place.
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Nathan Green tied Ernie’s final-round 67 to move up the leaderboard and finish solo 3rd at 4-under. Justin Rose fired the same 67 to make the big move on Sunday, going from a t56 to a t15. Justin Leonard moved the wrong way Sunday, dropping out of the top-20 with a final round 74 on the way to a t30 finish.
With many of the top Tour players not in attendance at the Honda, the top of the Money List remained the same as last week. Tiger is tops with $2.28 million, followed in order by Phil Mickelson, K.J. Choi, Justin Leonard and J.B. Holmes. Ernie made the big jump with the win, moving from 154th to 13th at $1.03 million total. Luke Donald moved to 12th from the 24th spot after the runner-up finish that earned $594,000. Nathan Green used his solid 3rd to vault into the top-25 on the earnings list, moving from 76th to 22nd.
Much of the same can be said for the FedExCup Points List with the same five golfers making up the top of the FedEx list. Tiger has the largest point total with 9,225, despite only playing in two events. Ernie Els may not have even been on the list prior to the Honda, as he sat tied for 182nd, but the win moved him just outside the top-10, at 11th. Luke Donald made a move into the top-15, going from 31st to 14th. A t7 moved John Mallinger into the top-25, he now sits at 23rd, up from 38th.
The PGA Tour stays in Florida as the PODS Championship plays this week from Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Tampa Bay.
The PGA has amended its controversial cut policy only weeks into its use on the advice of the players themselves. The policy had the 36 hole cut limiting the amount of golfers participating on the weekend to 70 when the cut amount was 78 players or more. The players on the number were paid last place money and points, but were left without the chance to improve their positions. Several Tour Pros had complained about the inability to gain position on Money List as well as Ryder Cup Points and such, prompting the Tour to administer a 54 hole cut that will cut the field to the typical 70, giving the bubble golfers one more day to move up the leaderboard.