Donald Driving for Repeat Victory at Honda

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2006 Honda ClassicAs the PGA TOUR leaves the Arizona desert following Henrik Stenson's win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, it turns its attention to the beginning of the TOUR's 'Southern Swing' with this week's Honda Classic -- and thus begins a five-week run-up to the 2007 Masters Tournament.
 
But first things first, as England's Luke Donald returns to defend the title he won last year with a two-shot victory over Geoff Ogilvy. The win ended a nearly four-year drought on TOUR for Donald, who had his breakout win at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
Luke Donald's 2007 PGA TOUR Results

Mercedes 7th

 
Sony Open T-2

 
AT&T Pebble MC

 
Nissan Open MC

 
WGC-Accenture T-17

 

Donald will be joined in beautiful West Palm Beach by world No. 2 Jim Furyk, Accenture champion Stenson, 2005 Honda winner Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III.
 
After being played the last four years at The Country Club at Mirasol, the event is moving across the street this year to PGA National. It was designed by Tom and George Fazio and opened in 1981, and since has been redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and further renovated by Nicklaus Design in 2002.
 
Noticeably absent from the field is Ogilvy, who has had some good results at this event, including the aforementioned runner-up to Donald last year. He also had a second-place showing back in his rookie season of 01. Perhaps Joe Ogilvie can pick up the slack. He finished runner-up in 2005, giving the Ogilvy/ies three silver medal finishes over the last six years.
 
And speaking of runner-ups in this event, besides Love's back-to-back finishes in '03 and '04, the late Payne Stewart racked up an astonishing five second-place finishes in the event in his career.
 
But let's get back into the winner's circle, which judging by history, is not an easy thing to do. Nicklaus himself is the one player to ever repeat in this tournament and that was back in '77 and '78, when it was known as Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic. Only two other players - Johnny Miller and Mark Calcavecchia - have twice won the title.
 
Heres our list of players to watch for from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has played 10-plus years on the PGA TOUR and may or may not have won in some time)
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk will be looking to prove something this week at the Honda Classic. (WireImage)
Superstar
Jim Furyk will come into the Honda with a little something to prove. Holding a 2-up lead on Chad Campbell in the second round at the Accenture Match Play, Furyk let it slip away and lost in 19 holes. A tough competitor, Furyk will likely bounce back and The Honda is the perfect place for the world's No. 2 player. His recent results in this event are pretty impressive - four straight top-10s.
 
Second-Tier
Coming off a decent showing at the Accenture Match Play, where he lost to Campbell in extra holes in the third round, David Toms comes into this event with good feelings. He finished in a tie for third last season despite a 76 on Saturday, and in 2005 had a T5. He has 12 career PGA TOUR wins.
 
Veteran
This is a hometown event of sorts for Dudley Hart. Hart now resides in Buffalo, N.Y., but used to make South Florida his home. Harts last PGA TOUR victory came at The Honda in 2000. He has three other top-10 finishes in this tournament, including a sixth-place showing last season at Mirasol. His victory came at TPC at Herron Bay and he had a little bit of success when the event was contested at Weston Hills ' a change in venue shouldnt hurt his chances.
 
First-Timer
Six of the last 11 winners at The Honda Classic were first-time winners on the PGA TOUR. That said, it should bode well for Jeff Quinney. He took last week off and will be refreshed as the TOUR hits Florida. The question for Quinney, of course, is if he can keep his mojo going from the West Coast to the East Coast. Ranked outside of the top-200 to begin the season, Quinney has risen to 93rd on the strength of his terrific start to the year - four top-10s, including a solo third at the FBR Open.
 
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