Rory McIlroy held off a Sunday charge by Tiger Woods last year, but look for his 2013 struggles to continue this week.
Since moving to the PGA National Champion Course, the Honda Classic has become one of the premiere events on the PGA Tour and the field is full of elite players.
With the strong field and high scoring average, the Honda Classic has taken on the feel of a major championship.
Last year, Rory McIlroy held off a strong final-round charge by Tiger Woods to win the tournament by two strokes.
This year, McIlroy and Woods are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, and headline the field at the Honda Classic.
Although many people have McIlroy and Woods as the favorites this week, neither players will be in contention come Sunday.
McIlroy is the defending champion, but he has yet to find his game in 2013. If a player is just a little off his game, the PGA National Course will expose those flaws.
The course is littered with penalizing water hazards, and is home to the infamous closing stretch known as the “Bear Trap.”
Another factor that will hamper McIlroy’s performance is the weather conditions. The strong trade winds of South Florida always play havoc at this tournament, and the champion is generally a solid ball striker.
McIlroy is usually one of the best ball strikers on tour, but has been off form this year. He also has a high ball flight, which will make his shots more susceptible to the wind.
Who has a better chance of winning the Honda Classic?
Look for McIlroy’s 2013 struggles to continue this week as he finishes in the middle of the pack.
Woods played the Honda Classic for the first time last year. Although he finished in second place, that finish was mostly due to a Sunday 62. Before that, Woods was very pedestrian all week.
Woods also has the rust factor to contend with. Other than his first-round defeat last week at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, Woods has not played competitively since the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
Throughout his career, anytime Woods takes elongated breaks from competition, it has taken him a few rounds to get back into the competitive flow.
Whoever can brave the wind and tame the “Bear Trap” will be holding the trophy on Sunday afternoon, but do not expect him to be either McIlroy or Woods.