Honda Classic’s earlier start in 2022 should lead to bigger stars coming to Palm Beach Gardens

Tom D’Angelo, Palm Beach Post
·3 min read

The Honda Classic is moving back to its late February date in 2022 and once again will kick off the Florida Swing.

Honda will be Feb. 21-27, according to a source in the golf industry, the same week it has been played in most years since moving to PGA National in 2007. Honda was moved to the third weekend of March this year, impacting the field because it fell between two World Golf Championship events and one week after the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Next year, Honda will be the week the WGC was held the last three years, the first two in Mexico City and this year at The Concession in Bradenton, Florida. With that first WGC moving, Honda will follow the Genesis Invitational outside Los Angeles and come before the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players, which do not move.

That spot is much more favorable and will leave little excuse for the elite players, especially those who live in the area, to skip the event.

The WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession was in the same spot this year as Honda will be next year and it attracted a field that included 19 of the top 20 golfers in the world.

That means there will be no excuses – other than health – for local PGA Tour competitors not to support their hometown tournament. That includes golfers such as Palm Beach Gardens’ Dustin Johnson, who has played Honda three times and not since 2015; North Palm Beach’s Patrick Cantlay, who has never played Honda; Jupiter’s Rory McIlroy, who skipped Honda the last three years; and Jupiter’s Justin Thomas, who sat out the last two.

This year’s tournament, won by Matt Jones, included two golfers in the top 20 (No. 18 Sungjae Im and No. 19 Lee Westwood). Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, both in the top 15 and both raised in Palm Beach County, entered but could not play because of injuries.

While no one expects Honda to draw a field similar to a WGC event or the Players, this will give the elite golfers many more options around Honda, which should impact the field in a positive way.

The schedule change was mentioned Sunday by Jack Nicklaus, whose charity is the primary beneficiary of the Honda Classic. But the legendary golfer did not give any details.

Nicklaus, who lives minutes from PGA National, was asked if Honda remaining where it was this year in the schedule would work out. He immediately said, “no” before adding it will be in a better spot on the calendar next year.

Executive director Ken Kennerly said Sunday that discussions were under way to move Honda, which is the longest running sponsor on the PGA Tour, to a more favorable spot in the schedule.

“We continue to review our position on the schedule with the PGA Tour,” Kennerly said Sunday. “We’re constantly working on it.”

Returning to late February helps in another way: Honda will not be up against the NCAA basketball tournament, which should have an impact on television ratings. This year’s Honda went head-to-head with the first and second rounds of March Madness Friday to Sunday.

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