PGA Tour

Honda Classic attracts several big guns ... but not Woods and McIlroy

Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly says he understands why several big-name players are skipping this year's tournament.

While this week's PGA Tour stop has managed to attract six of the top 20 players in the world, the likes of world No 1 Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are conspicuous by their absence.

It's particularly disappointing for fans as the four absentees all have homes a short distance from Palm Beach Gardens in Florida where the tournament takes place.

But Kennerly understands that the schedule is the primary reason why the players are skipping the event, as they are taking time off before starting their Masters preparation.

"Schedules dictate where these guys play," Kennerly said.

"The good news from our perspective is every player I've talked to loves the Honda Classic, loves PGA National and the only reason why they chose to skip it is they're lining themselves up for the Masters, they're lining themselves up for The Players Championship and they're coming off the Tiger Woods Invitational and Mexico."

"We've doubled the top 20s in the field," he added. "The field is stronger this year. The schedule is the schedule, that's always going to be the issue for us."

The field is indeed stronger than it has been in recent years, with the likes of Top 20 players Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Shane Lowry and Gary Woodland all set to take part.

The big draw for the fans will certainly be former world No 1 Koepka, who was raised in nearby Wellington, and is still searching for his first win in his hometown tournament after falling just one shot short in 2019 when he finished runner-up to Keith Mitchell.

"I think Brooks has a little unfinished business," Kennerly said.

- TEAMtalk media

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