The Honda Classic: Shane Lowry wants redemption after last year's late loss to Sepp Straka
After spending the first chunk of the year on the West Coast, the PGA Tour is back east this week to kick off the Florida Swing — the last stretch of golf before The Masters in April.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of The Honda Classic.
The Honda Classic
PGA National | Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Par 70 | 7,125 yards
Purse: $8.4 million
FedExCup points for winner: 500
Betting favorite, via BetMGM: Sungjae Im (+850)
Last time out: Sepp Straka grabs first career win
Thanks to a clutch tap-in birdie at the final hole, Sepp Straka picked up his first and only career PGA Tour win last year at The Honda Classic.
Straka was tied with Shane Lowry when he arrived at the par-5 18th at PGA National last year and ended up missing his eagle putt by less than a foot en route to his 4-under 66 in a rainy Sunday finish. That gave him the 1-shot win over Lowry.
“It’s crazy,” Straka said after the win, via the Tour. “It’s a lifelong dream of mine just to be heading to Augusta in a month or so. It’s still surreal. I’m sure it’ll sink in here before long, but yeah, it’s just crazy.”
The 29-year-old has largely struggled this season. He finished T45 at the Genesis Invitational last week, his second event of 2023, after a T21 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In his eight events, Straka has finished inside the top 25 just twice.
Can Sungaje Im spoil Shane Lowry’s redemption attempt?
Sungjae Im is the betting favorite this week in Florida, and it’s easy to see why.
While he finished T56 last week at Riviera Country Club, it came after back-to-back top-10 finishes both at the Farmers Insurance Open and the WM Phoenix Open. He has five top-25 finishes in his eight events of the season and has missed the cut just once while climbing back to No. 18 in the Official World Golf Rankings — which is just two shy of his career-best mark.
Im won at PGA National in 2020, too, and posted a T8 finish the following year.
Lowry, however, sounds like he’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder. His loss last year, which admittedly ended up working out for him, was extremely frustrating.
“I had a 2-shot lead with five to play. I didn't feel like I did much wrong the last five holes out here, which is tough to do because it's obviously a very tough stretch of golf, and yeah, I got beat by Sepp in the end,” Lowry said Wednesday. “Yeah, it was disappointing at the time, but I remember it kind of kick-started a nice consistent run of golf for me.”
Lowry hasn’t played much this season. After playing The CJ Cup in October, he didn’t return to the Tour until two weeks ago at the WM Phoenix Open, where he missed the cut.
But last week, Lowry seemed to find him rhythm once again in his T14 finish.
“Felt like I was very close to a pretty good week,” Lowry said. “So yeah, I'm pretty happy where my game is at. I like this golf course, like this tournament. I'm looking forward to the week. I'm looking forward to the challenge that this course brings.”