By Jay Betsill
When the Sunday at the Honda Classic got underway, Rory McIlroy was in the driver’s seat and, albeit remote, Tiger Woods was in the conversation. McIlroy was resembling the player he was back when he outlasted Woods to win the 2012 Honda Classic and become the No.1 player in the world. Woods, fresh off firing a 5-under 65 on Saturday, looked like the Tiger that won five times last season on his way to being named ‘Player of the Year.’
As the day turned into night, Woods had withdrawn on No. 13 citing back pain. McIlroy had crumbled down the stretch closing with a 74, but still qualifying for a four-man playoff with Russell Henley, Russell Knox and DFW resident Ryan Palmer. Henley, who won the Sony Open last year in his debut as a PGA Tour member won his second PGA Tour title with a two-putt birdie on No. 18 to come out on top at the Honda Classic at PGA National.
“I didn’t play well enough to deserve a win today,” McIlroy told reporters after the playoff. “Seventy-four today wasn’t good enough to get the job done.”
As for Woods, it is not yet known if he will be at the newly re-modeled Doral next week looking for his fifth title at the Blue Monster after injuring his back.
“It started this morning during warm-ups,” Woods said via spokesman Glenn Greenspan. “It’s too early to tell (about Doral). I’ll get treatment every day to try and calm it down. Don’t know yet. We’ll see how I am, wait till Thursday and see how it feels.”
Notables in this stellar field included Luke Donald (T8, -5), Sergio Garcia (T8, -5), Adam Scott (T12, -4), Keegan Bradley (T12, -4), Rickie Fowler (T24, -3), Zach Johnson (T33, -2) and Graeme McDowell (t46, E). No. 3 Henrik Stenson, No. 5 Phil Mickelson and past major champions Mike Weir, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke, Ben Curtis, Charl Schwartzel, Geoff Ogilvy, Luicas Glover and Martin Kaymer were among those who missed the cut.
Next week on the PGA TOUR, there are two events. The World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral features the Top 50 players among its 67-man exclusive field. The Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com field is highlighted by past major champions including David Duval, Y.E. Yang, Trevor Immelman, Lee Janzen and John Daly.
- Paula Creamer won the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore with a 75-foot eagle putt on the second playoff hole against Azahara Muno. It was Creamer’s her first LPGA title since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s one of those putts where if you just get it in the right spot, it’s going to fall down,” she said. “But I could stand there all day long and putt that and I don’t think get it within six, seven feet.”
- The PGA Tour is closing in on a deal with Quicken Loans to become title sponsor of Tiger Woods’ tournament at Congressional CC currently known as the AT&T National, the Associated Press reported. Dallas-based AT&T announced two years ago that it would sponsor the Byron Nelson Championship starting in 2015 and not renew its sponsorship of the event in Washington D.C. AT&T is also under contract through 2024 as the title sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour.
- The PGA Tour and The Travelers Companies announced a 10-year extension as title sponsor of the Travelers Championship. The tournament will be played this year June 19-22 at TPC River Highlands.