Local Knowledge: 2012 Honda Classic

Honda Classic
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Players in the Honda Classic face a daunting three-hole stretch -- Nos. 15-17 -- known as the Bear Trap. No. 17, above, is a brutal par 3.
By
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
PGA.com

Series: Local Knowledge

If you didn't know any better, a quick look at this week's PGA Tour Honda Classic field might lead you to believe this week is a major championship.

Speaking of major championships, all four 2011 major champions are teeing it up this week. So are Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood.

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Our local expert
Jane Broderick
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So what's the reason for the great field for the Tour's first stop on the 2012 Florida Swing? Easy: a world-class course.

The Champion Course at PGA National (site of the 1983 Ryder Cup and 1987 PGA Championship) has been hosting the Honda Classic since 2007. It's major-like difficulty is a perfect way for players to gear up for the upcoming major season. Simply put, it's a fantastic test.

PGA National Director of Golf Jane Broderick was our guest for Local Knowledge. She shares some insight on the course, the field and the tournament.

PGA.com: It's great to have you back for a little Local Knowledge, Jane. It seems the Honda Classic just keeps building momentum ever since the switch to PGA National. The players love the set up because it's so, "major-like." How big a factor do you think a great course is when it comes to drawing a great field?

Broderick: Truly great athletes, regardless of the sport, love a real challenge to test their skills and golf is no different. As many have stated before, "The Champion Course requires major championship shots." So it stands to reason that the event at PGA National continues to draw a star-packed field. The best players want to play on the best courses, and the Champion Course is just that.

PGA.com: And speaking of drawing a great field, wow. You guys have done it again. A quick peak at the field list shows a number of big names, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. What can you tell us about the field?

Broderick: The field is the best to date. We have a tremendous U.S. contingent with all four reigning major winners -- Charl Schwartzel, McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley -- a tremendous international contingent, and, of course, Tiger. I think if we compare our field with any non-major event this year, we'll have the best list of "who's who."

PGA.com: If you don't mind, I'd like to focus on Tiger for a second. I think it's clear that he's playing better golf now than he has in a few years (maybe aside from the putting). As a PGA Professional, what is it about Tiger's game that you're most encouraged by lately?

Broderick: Tiger is putting together greater stretches of consistency, where his errant shots are fewer and less dramatic. Golf is a game of misses, and simply put, he is reducing his misses which is boosting his confidence, and we all know a confident Tiger is typically in contention on Sunday.

PGA.com: As usual, all eyes will be on holes 15-17, the Bear Trap. What makes that stretch so difficult?

Broderick: The Bear Trap is made difficult by design and natural conditions. Tee shots or approach shots over water, with prevailing winds affecting the outcome of each shot, takes the saying "risk vs. reward" to a whole new level. Each hole in the Bear Trap can stand alone as a great golf hole, but stringing three together doesn't let the players up for air.

PGA.com: Last question for you, Jane. As the PGA Director of Golf at PGA National, what do you typically most look forward to during tournament week?

Broderick: Unlike many multicourse facilities that host a Tour event, we keep our other courses in full operation during tournament week servicing our members, resort guests, and corporate play associated with the tournament. It's an honor working with the PGA Tour, the Tour Rules Officials and the folks from IGP, in a support role for the Honda Classic, but I most look forward to seeing the total team effort put forth by the Golf Staff to ensure our other golfers are provided a world-class golf experience. We work to provide the best of both worlds. Great golf for those who want to play and great golf for those who want to watch the best players play.