Welcome to the early weekend, golf fans. There’s not too much to report from last week’s Genesis Invitational. Unless you count Tiger Woods looking off his meds in a good way, the top 5 finishers all 28 years or younger, all of the top 11 in the world playing at the same time, and Phil Mickelson trying some weird flex and tasting his own shoe leather almost immediately. If you read this, you’re probably a golf fan and know what I’m talking about so I won’t waste your screen space unless you ask a question in the comments (which I’m glad to do). But here’s what our 3 former Bulldogs did in the City of Angels:
Bubba Watson just didn’t have it - his rounds of 70-74 left him 2 off the even par cut line.
Russell Henley used a pair of (+1) 72’s to sandwich good rounds of 66-69, and he finished at T33.
Sepp Straka opened with 74 (11 shots off the 1st round lead), but proceeded to shoot 68-66-68 and got a top 15 for his effort. Since the Invitational has “elevated” status, he got a few more FedEx Cup points and moved to 105th in that ranking.
We are now officially done with the West Coast Swing, and the Tour moves into the South for a while. And also into Florida, And Texas. But it’s geographically southern. And if you’re wondering about the title of this post, all I can say is that I think I have exhausted the usable Honda North American market model names. If you’ve been at Dawg Sports a while, you’ve seen such classics as “Prelude to a Civic Event”, “Pilot Fit for an Odyssey”, and “Passport for Ridgeline Insights”. Now I think I’m done. But if you have more ideas, shoot them over and I swear I’ll use them next year and give you full credit***.
Tournament: The Honda Classic. February 24-27, 2022
Course: PGA National (Champion course), par 70, 7,125 yards. You could say it’s in Palm Beach Gardens, a short commute from West Palm Beach. Or you could say it’s 40 miles east of Lake Okeechobee.
Purse: $8 million total, $1.44 million to the winner
Defending Champ: Matt Jones. Do you like slow play? Neither does Matt Jones. He consistently hits the ball in 5 seconds or under from address. No exaggerated waggles, no grip and re-grip. And he causes TV broadcasters fits because he hits his ball as soon as possible after his playing partners, and the camera staff can’t get in position soon enough. Jones opened hot last year, and held on for a 5 stroke victory on this tough, tough course. Our own Russell Henley (2014 winner) tied for 3rd.
Fun Fact: If you tire of corporate sponsorship taking over sporting events, try the “fan experience” at the Honda Classic: Corona Premier Clubhouse, US Polo Association Champagne Lounge, Tito’s (vodka) Stillhouse Lounge, The Garrison Brothers Distillery Bunker, Pratt & Whitney Patriots Outpost, Ideal Nutrition First Tee, TruGreen Backyard, and Cobra Puma Golf Village. I swear those are real.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Last week I forgot that CBS will pass the early spring golf torch to NBC while they cover college basketball. Which seems to be a thing many college sports fans root for. Maybe they can use a former D-1 college coach as an analyst. I know one who will be looking for work very soon.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 8. Erik Compton (!!), Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Keith Mitchell, Greyson Sigg, Sepp Straka, Hudson Swafford, and Brendon Todd.
PGA National is a bear of a course, designed by the Golden Bear himself, naming holes 15-17 “The Bear Trap”, having a mammoth bear statue to designate it as such, and other fun things. The winning score is usually only in the single digits under par - a scant 3 times in the last two decades has it reached double digits under par. It consistently ranks in the top courses for balls in the water on the Tour - a record 339 balls in the 2018 version. Remember, these are some of the best players in the world and they’re dunking almost 2 a round on average. So yeah, there’s a lot of water.
Russell Henley won the Honda in 2014, winning in a playoff over Rory McIlroy and 2 others. This was his 2nd PGA Tour victory in just his 2nd year as a member.
Keith Mitchell also captured this title in 2019, holding off the likes of Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. Mitchell was also in his 2nd year on Tour when he won.
And though Brian Harman doesn’t have his name etched on the trophy, he’s still in the clubhouse record books. His 2nd round in the 2012 Honda Classic produced a 61, bettering the previous course record by 3 strokes.
Erik Compton is entered this week, making a rare PGA Tour appearance. Compton has bounced back and forth from the Korn Ferry and PGA Tour over the years. Never a Tour winner, he did finish 2nd at the 2014 US Open in Pinehurst. And he’s had 2 heart transplants.
The significance, other than just another former Bulldog swelling the tournament ranks, is that Compton makes 15 different former Bulldogs to compete in a PGA Tour event this season. He joins regular Tour members Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd, Sepp Straka, Greyson Sigg, Keith Mitchell, and Harris English. Korn Ferry Tour members Joey Garber and Davis Thompson have qualified and/or received sponsor invitations. And Ryuji Imada played at Pebble Beach earlier this month.
And that, my friends, is a Bulldog point of pride. As always...
*** Except that I will ban you a week before the 2023 Honda so I can steal the credit.