Michael Thompson held it together and won the Honda Classic.
The Honda Classic is not a major, but it is one of the most important tournaments of the young golf season.
You don't get Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to compete if the tournament is not considered elite. While McIlroy and Woods finished first and second last year, neither was a factor this time around.
The PGA National Champion Course at Palm Beach Gardens is one of the most challenging courses on the tour. The famed "Bear Trap" (holes 15, 16 and 17) never fails to torment the best golfers in the world.
Michael Thompson did not have an easy time, but he held on to win the event. The tournament had drama and stellar play, along with several notable failures.
The victory was the first of the 27-year-old Thompson's career.
Michael Thompson is not exactly a star on the PGA Tour.
Thompson had come up empty throughout his career prior to the Honda Classic. He had failed to make 20 cuts in the last two years.
But Thompson had shown plenty of confidence and belief in himself. Thompson shot a one-under-par 69 in the windy final round and finished at a nine-under 271. He won the tournament by two strokes.
Thompson demonstrated that he was going to take advantage of his final round position—he started the round tied for the lead—when he registered an eagle on the 538-yard par-five third hole. Thompson connected on a brilliant 55-foot putt and that allowed him to take charge of the final round.
Thompson was mostly steady and when he birdied the 18th following an impressive shot from the bunker, he had the first win of his career.
Thompson earned $1,080,000 with the victory. Prior to the Honda Classic, Thompson had earned just under $11,000 this year.
Rory McIlroy had a nightmarish two days at the Honda Classic.
He came to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with an eye toward defending the title he won last year. Instead, McIlroy fell apart—and tarnished his image.
McIlroy shot an even-par 70 in the opening round of the tournament, but had a disastrous front nine in the second round. He was seven-over-par through the first eight holes when he walked off the course.
McIlroy claimed that severe tooth pain was the reason for his premature withdrawal (source: Yahoo.com).
Later on, AP golf writer Doug Ferguson tweeted that McIlroy said he was not mentally prepared.
McIlroy lost in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and did not make it through two rounds at the Honda Classic.
It's a tough start to the 2013 season for McIlroy.
Geoff Oglivy had a strong second place finish in the Honda Classic.
He put significant pressure on Michael Thompson throughout the final round and when Oglivy birdied the 538-yard, par-five 18th hole, it put him at seven-under for the tournament and brought him within one stroke of Thompson.
If Thompson had bogeyed the 18th, Oglivy would have been in a tie for the lead and he would have forced a playoff.
Oglivy's highlight was a chip-in on the 16th hole that gave him a birdie. Oglivy's chipping is one of his strengths, and he hit a delicate, twisting chip that hung on the lip of the hole before it finally dropped in for the birdie.
Tiger Woods had an opportunity to make a run at the Honda Classic, but he never got it going this year.
A year after finishing second in this tournament, Woods could not break 70 in any of the four rounds. He barely made the cut, and then shot his third straight 70 in the third round.
While Woods was not in contention, his four-over-par 74 in the final round was disappointing.
Keegan Bradley was in a contending position throughout the Honda Classic.
He shot 68 in each of the first two rounds, and while he could not break 70 in either of the final two rounds, Bradley was steady throughout the week.
Bradley closed with 70 in the third round and 71 in the final round, and he finished in a tie for third in the tournament.
Bradley is playing solid golf with the tour heading into Doral. He has made five of seven cuts this year and he has three top-25 finishes. He has an average score of 69.4 this season, a full stroke better than his career average.
Bradley finished as the seventh-leading driver in the tournament with an average of 299.1 yards per drive.
OK, let's be fair. Luke Guthrie had a great week at the Honda Classic and he finished in third place with a five-under-par 275.
He picked up $408,000 for his efforts.
However, Guthrie went into the final round tied with Michael Thompson for the lead. He played in the final pairing. He had a chance to win.
He never gave himself the opportunity to knock Thompson out of the winner's circle. Guthrie shot a three-over-par 73 in the final round.
He was hurt badly when he hit the ball out of bounds on the 14th hole and eventually took a double bogey. He also three-putted the 17th hole to remove any chance he might have had at putting significant pressure on Thompson.
Erik Compton is not a household name on the PGA tour.
However, he had been featured on HBO's Real Sports because he had undergone two heart transplants (video above). He developed cardiomyopathy at age nine and had his first heart transplant shortly thereafter.
Compton had never finished in the top 10 in an PGA event, but he finished in a tie for fourth in the Honda Classic. Compton shot a three-under-par 277 and earned $226,200 for his effort.
Compton fired an even-par 70 in the difficult windy conditions in the final round.
Graham DeLaet is a relatively unknown Canadian golfer on the PGA Tour.
The leaderboard shows that DeLaet shot a two-under-par 278 and finished in a tie for ninth. DeLaet earned $156,000 for his efforts.
Normally, DeLaet would happy with that kind of check and a top-10 finish. However, DeLaet had a disastrous back nine in the final round.
He had back-to-back double bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes and that assured that he would have no chance for a much higher finish.