Honda Classic 2013 events kick off today, can Rory McIlroy defend his title?

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The two best golfers in the world have had plenty of time to prepare for this week's Honda Classic.

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Tiger Woods were both eliminated last Thursday in the first round of the Match Play Championship in Arizona and had the entire weekend to tune up on PGA National's Champion Course.

McIlroy is, of course, the tournament's defending champion, stopping a Woods' rally on the final day of the 2012 event, when the Martin County resident carded a 62 to close within two shots of the winner.

Those two are joined by a field that includes nine other top 20 players: Louis Oosthuizen (No. 5), Justin Rose (6), Lee Westwood (8), Charl Schwartzel (11), Jason Dufner (12), Keegan Bradley (15), Dustin Johnson (18), Graeme McDowell (19) and Peter Hanson (20).

Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly said the course is the reason for the strong field.

"The leading players in the world love coming here. PGA National is a championship level golf course and The Honda Classic has become a premier event in the world," Kennerly said.

Two factors that could play into the outcome are the rough and the weather.

The rough is as deep, and lush, as it has ever been since the event moved to PGA National in 2007.

As for the weather, a cold front is predicted to pass through on Wednesday, as cooler temperatures (66 degrees) are forecast by Saturday and Sunday — with winds out of west, northwest.


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