March 22, 2018

Tiger Makes His Long-Awaited Return To The Honda Classic

23 February 2018, 08:00 | Randolph Howard

By any name, golf tournaments have thrived in Tucson

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In addition to winning here a year ago, Fowler led at the halfway mark of the 2016 Honda Classic before fading over the final two rounds.

Tiger Woods got off to a quick start Thursday at the Honda Classic, firing a 1-under 34 on his opening nine at PGA National. He tees off his second round at 25 past five today Irish time. He hit into the water and made double bogey for a 72. He told reporters that it was the best he's struck the ball in his short return so far, and that he felt good around the greens. I feel like that's putting yourself under an very bad lot of pressure.

"Yeah, I feel like I'm really not that far away", Woods said. After following with four straight birdies, the reigning PGA Championship victor played his final six holes in one over, demonstrating just how hard it is to go low on the Jack Nicklaus design.

Tommy Fleetwood: His first appearance in the Honda Classic, and is coming from a respectable T37 in his first US Start this year at last week's Genesis Open.

Alex Noren: Followed up his play-off defeat to Jason Day with a T21 at Torrey Pines and T16 at Riviera. Hughes also was off last week after a MC at Pebble.

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Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of The Honda Classic at PGA National (Champion). The nine-time European Tour victor from Sweden is still in the process of playing more on American soil, but it's obvious he's getting used to it. Sergio's making his 2017 stateside debut with a little NiƱo due next month, at a venue where he has yet to miss a cut.

In 2014 McIlroy looked on course to make amends in style when he opened with rounds of 63 and 66, only to card a closing 74 and eventually lose out in a play-off to Russell Henley, while he missed the cut in 2015 and 2016. Frittelli doesn't have history at the Honda Classic, but he's been tearing it up recently, finishing fifth in the Maybank Championship, sixth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a top-20 finish in Dubai. These holes are not to be messed with as they are consistently ranked on the PGA Tour's 50 toughest holes. The Spaniard is gunning to get his hands on the title for the first time, and can bank on a decent record with a brace of top-10 finishes, including 2nd in 2016, while he's yet to miss the cut.

It's well known that his putting holds him back but the importance of it is reduced in an event like this where single digits under par has won eight of the last 11 editions. He's finished in the top 15 in five of the last seven Honda Classics.

It was Watson's 10th career win and his 3rd at the Genesis Open.

McIlroy has posted some impressive numbers at PGA National in the past including winning this event in 2012. He could also put himself in contention going into the weekend. Even though it's played a half hour from Woods' compound in Hobe Sound, the Honda wasn't thought to be an ideal tune-up for Woods' rebuilt game.

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