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February 28 - March 3


PGA National Resort & Spa (Par 70/7,110 yards)


Palm Beach Gardens, Florida THE HONDA CLASSIC


Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the final round of The Honda Classic.


Victories Most


Jack Nicklaus Johnny Miller


Mark Calcavecchia 3


NOT THAT RORY MCILROY HAD ANYTHING to prove, but if there were any doubts about how well he could handle final- round pressure, the kid answered them at last year’s Honda Classic.


The Ulsterman had a thin lead when Tiger


Woods began to take a serious run at him in the form of a 62 (his lowest career final round) and Lee Westwood chimed in with a 63. But McIlroy was up to the challenge. He birdied No. 13 to take a two-stroke lead. Then he saved par from the deep rough on 14 and did the same thing twice from bunkers on his way in for a 69 and a two-stroke win—a win that moved him to the top in the Official World Golf Ranking, replacing England’s Luke Donald. “It was tough today, especially seeing Tiger make a charge,” McIlroy said. “I knew par golf would probably be good enough. To shoot 1-under in these conditions, when you go into the round with the lead, is very nice. And I was just able to get the job done.” The move to the top of the rankings was


138 PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2013 icing on the cake.


“It was always a dream of mine to become the world No. 1 and the best player in the world or whatever you want to call it,” McIlroy said. “But I didn’t know I would be able to get here this quickly. Hopefully, I can hold onto it for a little longer.”


AN IMPRESSIVE—AND ENCOURAGING—FINISH FOR WOODS Woods began the final round nine strokes off the lead and fired a 31 on the front side, a performance made all the more impressive by the windy conditions. That he was able to follow it up with another 31 on the way in indicated that perhaps he had righted the ship and might be on his way to his first PGA TOUR victory since the 2009 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. “To me, it was the old Tiger, the guy that


I remember,” said his playing partner, Ernie Els. “He never missed a shot or made a bad swing.”


“Even if I don’t play my best golf, I can


still challenge, which gives me a lot of confidence. When I’m firing on all cylinders, I feel like I’m hard to beat.” – Rory McIlroy


Even Woods was impressed by his performance.


“It feels good, because, you know, I felt like I was close,” he said. “I’ve been close to shooting this score, or scores like this. And it was just a matter of time before things all fell into place, and I don’t know, maybe I just needed the wind to blow or something like that today to feel comfortable with it. But I felt very comfortable when the wind was howling


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