Denny's push for a maiden PGA Tour title
Focus on solid ball-striking
Honda entry list suffers due to lack of 'elite status'
For the 42nd and final time, Honda will be the title sponsors of a tournament which began life in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic.
Honda took over as sponsors 10 years later but has now decided to call it a day.
The PGA Tour has yet to announce who will be replacing the Japanese company in 2024.
One thing that probably won't change, however, is that the tournament is likely to remain in Palm Beach Gardens in the years ahead.
And this week, once again, the Honda Classic will be the opening event of the traditional four-tournament 'Florida Swing'.
The big disadvantage this year, is that the tournament does not enjoy 'elite status', which means the total prize pot is between 55-60% less than that being offered at a number of other early-season events.
This is certainly reflected in the entry list, with just three of the world's top-25 taking part this coming week - and none of these among the top dozen.
The Honda Classic sits directly in the middle of four 'elite' prize pots, which means the majority of the Tour's big beasts have opted to take a rest these next few days.
The remainder of the four-week Floridian bonanza includes big money stops in Orlando and Ponte Vedra Beach, with the latter staging the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
As for this week, the final Honda-sponsored tournament will be played at PGA National for a 17th straight season.
Since making its PGA Tour debut in 2007, the Champion Course has become one of the most respected layouts in professional golf.
Designed by Tom and George Fazio, the Champion Course opened for business in November 1981.
Two years later it hosted the Ryder Cup, and then the PGA Championship in 1987.
Located approximately 80 miles north of downtown Miami, the venue has undergone three Jack Nicklaus-led upgrades during the past 20 years.
Although trees and dense vegetation are in short supply, it remains a course on which accurate tee-to-green golf is rewarded.
This is largely because of its plentiful and strategic bunkering, along with sizeable water hazards on 13 holes.
Even though the fairways do not appear to be overly tight, the low-lying Champion Course requires solid ball-striking, while the Tifeagle Bermuda grass putting surfaces were re-laid in 2018. This parkland venue is definitely no pushover.
Latest betting for this week's Honda Classic
None of the previous 16 winners at PGA National were outside the top 10 (see table below) after 36 holes.
In fact, 14 of the Champion layout's 16 winners were no lower than tied-sixth at the half-way mark.
Therefore, it doesn't appear to be an easy course on which to reduce large deficits when chasing birdies at weekend pin positions.
The table below shows the champions' positions @ 36 holes at the Champion Course.
Year ... Pos @ 36 ... (Champ)
`22: 6th (Sepp Straka)
`21: 2nd (Matt Jones)
`20: 9th (Sung Jae Im)
`19: 1st (Keith Mitchell)
`18: 7th (Justin Thomas)
`17: 3rd (Rickie Fowler)
`16: 4th (Adam Scott)
`15: 1st (Padraig Harrington)
`14: 3rd (Russell Henley)
`13: 2nd (Michael Thompson)
`12: 3rd (Rory McIlroy)
`11: 2nd (Rory Sabbatini)
`10: 1st (Camilo Villegas)
`09: 1st (Yong Eun Yang)
`08: 6th (Ernie Els)
`07: 5th (Mark Wilson)
Latest betting for next month's Players Championship
Lowest 10 At PGA National (2017-22)
Average .... (Rounds)
69.64: Sung Jae Im (14)
69.64: Sepp Straka (14)
69.71: Byeong Hun An (14)
70.00: Shane Lowry (16)
70.00: Alexander Noren (14)
70.00: Sam Ryder (12)
70.08: Cameron Davis (12)
70.22: Billy Horschel (18)
70.38: Harris English (16)
70.38: Jhonattan Vegas (24)
Min. No. of Rounds = 10
Only those entered this week are included in table
Latest betting for this year's Masters Tournament
Four To Watch
Sung Jae Im: The 'top seed' this week, and a former winner of this tournament. The world No 18 from Korea has posted a brace of top-10s on the PGA Tour so far this year.
Matt Kuchar: The former world No 4 has enjoyed an upturn in form during January and February. Now 44, the Florida-born pro finished eighth over the tricky Riviera layout on Sunday.
Peter Malnati: Certainly a long shot this week, but he's opened 2023 solidly and the field is hardly a 'humdinger'. Tied-fourth at Pebble Beach three weeks ago.
Denny McCarthy: It's the ideal week for the 29-year-old, world No 62, to secure a maiden PGA Tour title. Tied-14th at Riviera over the weekend, he stood on the Honda podium two years ago.
MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves