Changes to Florida swing impact Honda field


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The revised nature of the Florida swing didn’t help the Honda Classic this year.

With Doral out as host of the year’s first World Golf Championship event, the Florida "swing" is both a shortened and interrupted run.

After the Honda Classic, the PGA Tour turns next week to the WGC-Mexico Championship just west of Mexico City. The Tour will then turn around and head back to Florida for the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

This marks the first time since 1965 the PGA Tour won’t have more than three events in its early season Florida swing.

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The schedule’s change impacts the Honda Classic, as in recent years players have been able to fly into West Palm Beach to play and then just drive an hour south to Miami and Doral, which won’t host a PGA Tour event for the first time in 55 years.

“It probably hurt our field a little bit,” Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly said. Kennerly would like to see the three Florida events played in consecutive weeks.

“It’s something we’re lobbying for,” Kennerly said.

It won’t happen next year, with the same lineup planned in 2018, but Kennerly’s hopeful something can be worked out after that.

The Honda Classic field, which Kennerly has developed into one of the strongest regular Tour stops, was also impacted by the losses of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, both of whom were planning to play before injuries caused them to change their plans. McIlroy is recovering from a rib injury, Woods from back spasms.

The Honda Classic field features three of the top 10 players in the Official World Ranking this week. The tournament hosted eight of the top 10 three seasons ago.