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Thread: PGA: Honda Classic, March 13-16

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    PGA: Honda Classic, March 13-16

    Honda Classic

    Fast Facts
    Total Purse: $5,000,000
    Winning Share: $900,000
    Defending Champ: Matt Kuchar (D)



    Course Profile
    Course(s): Country Club at Mirasol
    Location: Palm Beach Gardens , FL
    Detailed course information not available


    TV Schedule*
    Date Time Channel Program Notes
    Thu 03/13/03 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. USA -
    Fri 03/14/03 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. USA -
    Sat 03/15/03 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. NBC -
    Sun 03/16/03 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. NBC -
    *All times EST and are subject to change. Check local listings.

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    Keep An Eye On: The Honda moves to a new course this year, wiping out any advantage veteran players had as far as local knowledge. So if you like picking longshots, why not go with rookie Andy Miller? Of course, the field is loaded with veterans, although only one winner from this season, Davis Love III, is teeing it up here. Jim Furyk, a playoff loser to Scott Hoch at Doral, also is a threat. Carlos Franco could be a factor if he can rid himself of putting woes.

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    Honda Classic sets up shop at Mirasol
    by CRAIG DOLCH, The Palm Beach Post

    Some PGA Tour events have the luxury of being held in the same location year after year. Then there's the Honda Classic.

    "I'd like to say we're moving to our permanent home," tournament director Cliff Danley said last week at a news conference, "but I've said that about five times. I've learned that forever usually lasts about six years in this business."

    Maybe the Honda Classic still is taking a cue from its original host Jackie Gleason, whose signature line was, "And away we go." When the tournament is held at Country Club at Mirasol on March 13-16, it will mark the fifth location and the sixth time the event has been moved in its 31-year history. The bad news is that many moves make it difficult for the tournament to achieve continuity.

    The good news is Danley and other tournament officials know what they're getting into each time. Danley has run the event since 1996 and has been involved with the tournament in some capacity for all but one season.

    "This isn't the first time we've had to move it, so experience teaches you what to do and what not to do," Danley said. "But each one's different because each footprint is different. The key word is flexibility."

    And patience. And vision.

    It's one thing for Danley to figure out where he wants the players to park and register, where to put their locker room, where to feed them and their families, where to have day care and have a place where the wives can relax while their husbands are at the office. It's another thing when he has to make these plans for buildings that had yet to be built, or were being modified.

    "We've gone through footprints for six months here that have constantly changed," Danley said. "You can't get upset when things are not where they were a week or a month ago. You just figure out a way to make it work."

    It's been that way since 1983, when the Broward County-based event left after a 12-year run at tournament host Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Country Club. That started an odyssey that took it to TPC at Eagle Trace from 1984-91, Weston Hills Country Club from 1992-95, back to Eagle Trace for 1996, then to TPC at Heron Bay from 1997 until last year, when it was moved to Palm Beach County because the bland Heron Bay layout attracted few of the Tour's big names.

    Tournament officials signed a four-year deal last spring with Mirasol's developer, Taylor Woodrow Communities, with a four-year option. By the time that contract was finalized, the tournament already was behind schedule because it usually works at least a year in advance on marketing and promoting the event.

    Danley's task has been made even more difficult for another reason: This year's event will be played on the Arthur Hills-designed Sunset Course, while the preferred Tom Fazio-designed Sunrise Course won't be finished until the fall and become the permanent home until 2004. Plus, Mirasol's clubhouse won't be finished until this fall, causing even further juggling. But Danley has no regrets about moving the event.

    "When we saw what wasn't going to happen at Heron Bay, we needed to get where we were going, even if it meant not having a clubhouse and the primary golf course the first year," he said. "We needed to get into the community and get established and tell them what we're all about."

    With the first round just 18 days away, tournament officials are in a hurry-up mode. About a dozen skyboxes, weighing 2 tons apiece, are in place around the 18th green of Hills' Sunset Course (which will remain as the 18th hole in future tournaments because of logistical reasons). Other trailers are in place, tents are being erected and leaderboards and concession stands are being built.

    The membership of Mirasol also is helping out. They've been forced to play cart-paths-only since Feb. 3 to save wear and tear on the fairways. The first and 18th holes of Hills' course has been closed to give them a break and this week the back tees were roped off to give them a chance to grow.

    Because this is a new site, PGA Tour officials have been out several times to check with the progress of the course and to give their specifications on how the course has been set up. Rules official Slugger White has done most of the pre-tournament work, with the yellow ropes going up a week before the event.

    "They started coming out six to nine months ago," said Don Beattie, Mirasol's director of golf. "They've created new fairway lines about 25 to 28 yards wide and added an additional cut of rough. The intermediate rough is 1 1/2 inches and the primary rough is 3 inches. They also asked us to overseed with rye for more consistency."

    Tournament officials have gotten some recent help from the weather. The warmer temperatures last week have helped grass to grow after one of the coldest winters in the last 30 years.

    "The course has really sprung up the past week," Beattie said. "If the weather stays beautiful, and it sometimes isn't in March, I think the winning score will be between 16- to 20-under."

    Danley doesn't have time to worry about what the champion might shoot. He's too busy basically building a city for a week. Then he'll have to do a lot of things differently next year with the new clubhouse and course available.

    "We're already thinking about 2004 because we'll be changing our footprint again," Danley said. "But we've got a lot of things going for us."

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    Leaderboard after day 1 (suspended due to lightning):

    Honda Classic

    1 Notah Begay III -9 F
    1 Jeff Brehaut -9 F
    1 Justin Leonard -9 F
    4 James Furyk -8 F
    4 John Senden -8 F
    4 Esteban Toledo -8 F
    7 Bob Estes -7 17
    7 David Peoples -7 F
    7 Chris Riley -7 F
    10 Gabriel Hjertstedt -6 F

    Jeff Brehaut arrived at the Honda Classic on Monday with an old driver, two wedges he didn't like and an umbrella. It wasn't exactly the bag setup he carefully laid out in his garage.

    Brehaut's clubs were stolen from his California home Saturday night, leaving him scrambling to replace them before Thursday's opening round of the Honda Classic.

    So far, it has been his only struggle.

    Brehaut shot a 9-under 63 at the Country Club at Mirasol on Thursday, giving him a share of the lead with Justin Leonard and Notah Begay III when play was suspended because of lightning.
    David Beighle, caddie for Neal Lancaster, collapsed midway through his round, was treated for dehydration and then taken to a hospital. Lancaster said the 6-foot, 260-pound Beighle had been taking a dietary supplement. It was not immediately clear whether it contained ephedra. Beighle was treated with intravenous fluids and taken to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for further evaluation. A hospital spokesperson said Beighle was in good condition Thursday afternoon. ... Defending champion Matt Kuchar shot a 70. ... John Daly, drawing the biggest crowd, shot a 76.

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    Leaderboard after day 2, round suspended by darkness:

    Honda Classic

    1 Notah Begay III -15 3
    1 Carlos Franco -15 8
    1 Brett Quigley -15 10
    4 Jeff Brehaut -14 4
    4 Tom Byrum -14 4
    4 Mark Calcavecchia -14 11
    4 Jerry Kelly -14 5
    4 Billy Mayfair -14 9
    4 Mark O'Meara -14 9
    4 Chris Riley -14 6

    Thirty-four players were at least 10-under when play was suspended. Fourteen players were on the course when play was halted. They will finish the second round Saturday morning but are not expected to affect the projected cut of 6-under -- which would tie the tour record set at last year's Disney Golf Classic.

    John Daly, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Azinger, Chris DiMarco and Ty Tryon were among those who missed the cut.

    Because rain is forecast for Saturday afternoon, tee times were moved up and players were grouped in threesomes and scheduled to go off the front and back nines to start the third round.

    That's fine with Begay, especially since he's in the final pairing.

    A bulging disc allowed him to play just 12 events over the last two years. He made just four cuts in 2001, then missed the first 11 cuts last year before finishing in a tie for 33rd at the Greater Hartford Open in June.

    He went from 20th on the money list in 2000 to 197th in 2001 and 108th last year. His endorsement deal with Nike expired this week, and he has no equipment deal. He wore a plain white cap Thursday and a plain black one Friday.

    Nonetheless, he's right where he wants to be.

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    Leaderboard after day 3, finally all caught up:

    1 Davis Love III -20 -
    2 Justin Leonard -19 -
    3 Chris Riley -18 -
    4 Notah Begay III -17 -
    4 Tom Byrum -17 -
    4 Carlos Franco -17 -
    4 Jerry Kelly -17 -
    4 Billy Mayfair -17 -
    4 Woody Austin -17 -
    10 Jeff Brehaut -16 -

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (AFP) - Justin Leonard birdied the final six holes but fellow American Davis Love made four back-nine birdies himself to keep a one-stroke lead here Saturday at the PGA Honda Classic.

    Love birdied the par-5 17th and parred the 18th to complete a seven-under par 65 third round at the $5 million event to withstand Leonard's amazing charge and lead at 20-under par 196 after 54 holes.

    Leonard fired a 64 to seize second at 197, one stroke ahead of playing partner Chris Riley, who birdied the final four holes to complete a 65 and take sole possession of third place.

    Six others, including Paraguay's Carlos Franco, were on 199. In all, 20 rivals were within five shots of Love on a course that has been yielding low rounds all week.

    Love served notice he would be in the title hunt with birdies at the eighth and 10th holes sandwiched around an eagle at the ninth. While missing some late chances, he added short birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th to retain the lead.

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    Final:

    Honda Classic

    1 Justin Leonard -24 F
    2 Chad Campbell -23 F
    2 Davis Love III -23 F
    4 Tim Herron -22 F
    5 Notah Begay III -21 F
    5 James Furyk -21 F
    5 Billy Mayfair -21 F
    8 Chris DiMarco -20 F
    8 Brian Gay -20 F
    8 Jerry Kelly -20 F

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (AP) - Justin Leonard shot a 5-under 67, broke the Honda Classic tournament record with a 24-under 264 and beat Davis Love III and Chad Campbell by one stroke Sunday for his eighth career tour victory.

    Leonard, paired in the final round with his close friend Love for the first time since the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, rallied from two strokes down over the final 13 holes to win $900,000.

    Next up, the Bay Hill Invitational.

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