Fact Pack: Honda Classic


The PGA Tour begins its Florida Swing this week at famed PGA National, one of the more difficult courses Tour players will encounter outside of the four majors. Gusty winds, numerous water hazards and one of the toughest three-hole stretches around will test the mettle of some of the world's best throughout the week. A strong field will tee it up in Palm Beach Gardens, so deciding your fantasy picks for the week will be no easy task. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

• Unlike many Tour events that have been played across the same course for decades, the Honda Classic has been a bit of a nomad - played on five different South Florida courses in the last 20 years. The Champion Course at PGA National has hosted the event since 2007.

• 2009 champion and 2011 runner-up Y.E. Yang has shown an ability to conquer the Bear Trap consistently, completing 12 of 14 career rounds at PGA National in 71 strokes or fewer. The two outliers, though, proved costly - a third-round 80 in 2008 and an opening 79 in 2010 that led to T-72 and MC finishes, respectively.

Robert Allenby will head to friendly confines as he looks to rebound from his playoff loss at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Allenby posted three straight top-5 finishes here from '07-'09 and finished T-21 last year.

• Despite an early exit last week, Ben Crane seems poised for a strong finish on a course that is especially demanding around the greens. Crane currently ranks first on Tour in strokes gained putting, par breakers and average distance of putts made. He is currently second in birdie average, third in scoring average and has posted three top-10 finishes in five starts this year.

• For the second consecutive week, all four 2011 major champions will be in the field. While Rory McIlroy is receiving much of the attention as he approaches the World No. 1 ranking, Keegan Bradley has quietly put together a strong start to 2012. Through six starts, his worst finish is T-22 at Torrey Pines, and Bradley currently leads the Tour in the all-around ranking.

• Recently, this even has served as a springboard from obscurity to major champion for a pair of golfers. In 2004, Todd Hamilton captured the Honda and followed it up by claiming the Claret Jug four months later - to date his only two Tour victories. Five years later, Y.E. Yang pulled off a similar feat, making the Honda his first win on Tour and winning the PGA Championship later that summer for his second - and to date most recent - victory on Tour.

Fresh off his third-place WGC finish, Mark Wilson returns to the site of his first Tour victory. The 2007 Honda champion currently ranks 4th on Tour in greens hit in regulation - an important stat, as last year players hit the green at PGA National less than 60% of the time. Wilson also leads the Tour in par 4 birdie percentage.

• While the 15th, 16th and 17th holes will receive much attention this week as the infamous the 'Bear Trap,' the par-4 6th contains just as much bite. At better than a 4.5 stroke average, it ranked as the hardest par-4 outside of the four major venues in 2011.

• Swede Fredrik Jacobson looks to continue his strong play at the Champion Course this week. In three career starts on the course, he boasts a stroke average below par at 69.7. Making his third straight start after missing nearly four months due to a thumb injury, Jacobson will be looking for his third top-10 finish at the Honda in four years.

Jeff Overton will look to get his 2012 season on track as he returns to a course that he knows well. In addition to top-10 finishes here at the Honda Classic in 2009 and 2011, Overton also has fond memories of PGA National from his junior golf days. In 2001 as an 18-year-old, he shot a second-round 65 on the Champion Course en route to winning the Boys' 16-18 age group at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship.

You can watch complete coverage of the Honda Classic Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 3PM-6PM ET.