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On The Range Blog - February 29

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On The Range Talent
Host: Gary Williams (Golf Channel)
Analyst: Billy Kratzert (4-time PGA TOUR winner)
Analyst: Bill Harmon (Instructor & Caddie for Jay & Bill Haas)

This Week’s Events
The Honda Classic
PGA National Champion Course - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Defending Champion: Rory Sabbatini

Marquee Player
Rory McIlroy
-2011 U.S. Open Champion
-2nd in Official World Golf Ranking (Takes over #1 with win)
-Runner-up in 2012 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
-Making 4th appearance in The Honda Classic
-Swing Instructor: Michael Bannon
-Caddie: JP Fitzgerald

Course Survey
PGA National Champion Course (Par 70 – 7,158 yards)

-Scoring is tough at PGA National: The Champion Course played the most strokes over par, had the lowest birdie average, fewest eagles per hole and most double bogeys of any non-Major on the 2011 PGA TOUR. It also had the highest Par 3 Scoring Average of any course with the 17th Hole (190 yards) and 15th hole (179 yards) playing the two hardest Par 3s on TOUR. The 6th hole (479 yards) had the highest scoring average of any non-Major Par 4.

-Importance of the approach: With such difficult scoring conditions, you not only have to hit the green but you have to hit it close. Since moving to PGA National in 2007, 4 of the past 5 winners have finished Top 10 for the week in both GIR and Proximity to the Hole.

-It ain’t easy when it’s breezy: One thing the players can usually expect at PGA National is high winds. In last year’s 1st Round, gusts reached over 35mph and only 8 players in the field broke par.

-Weekend warriors: The trend on the PGA TOUR has been 54-hole leaders blowing it on Sunday. Not the case at the Honda Classic. The past three 54-hole leaders have gone on to win the tournament.

Top 5: Golfers of All-Time
This week Tiger Woods makes his first professional start at PGA National, a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Many consider these two the greatest golfers ever to play the game, but do our viewers and experts agree? Here are the results of our On The Range Poll and our analyst rankings for Top 5 Golfers of All-Time (Share your thoughts or Top 5 in the comments section):

Billy Kratzert
1. Jack Nicklaus ('Number one for the Majors record alone and had the record been higher he would have surpassed it.')
2. Tiger Woods ('14 Majors and still chasing with three different golf swings.')
3. Bobby Jones ('Grand Slam in one year. Enough said.')
4. Ben Hogan ('No one has ever approached that kind of concentration.')
5. Sam Snead ('Had a longevity unless anyone else. Shot his age in a PGA TOUR event and was a U.S. Open away from the career Grand Slam.')

Bill Harmon
1. Jack Nicklaus ('He had the strength, had the touch and he has the wins.')
2. Tiger Woods ('Has the desire to be the greatest but not there yet. Has always had great concentration.')
3. Ben Hogan ('For a short stretch of time, he was the best ever.')
4. Sam Snead ('Did it better for longer than anyone.')
5. Gary Player ('Had the desire, Majors and worldwide wins.')

Viewer Poll Results
1. Jack Nicklaus
2. Tiger Woods
3. Arnold Palmer
4. Bobby Jones
5. Sam Snead

Featured Groups
The Honda Classic
Coverage Begins Thursday at 2:30PM ET on Golf Channel

Thursday, 12:30PM ET
Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Carballo

Thursday, 12:40PM ET
Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, John Huh

Friday, 12:30PM ET
Rory McIlroy, Kyle Stanley, Brandt Snedeker

Friday, 12:40PM ET
Rory Sabbatini, Camilo Villegas, Mark Wilson