Billy Horschel isn’t going to back down from playing five consecutive weeks. Neither is Sungjae Im, although Im never has meet a tournament he did not want to play.
Both players are ranked in the top 20 in the world and both are among those who have committed so far to play the Honda Classic at PGA National.
“There’s a lot of goals I haven’t checked off and I’ve always wanted to win in the state of Florida, obviously more than once, but before my career is over,” said Horschel, a graduate of the University of Florida and Jacksonville Beach resident.
“I would love to win and hope it is the Honda Classic this year that gets me that first one.”
If it is Horschel’s first, it would come in the last Honda Classic. Honda Motors is ending its sponsorship of the tournament after this year’s event, which runs Feb. 23-26. The tournament will find a new title sponsor.
Joining Horschel, No. 19 in the world, and Im, the 2020 Honda Champion ranked 18th in the world, are defending Honda champion and 27th-ranked Sepp Straka; and former Honda champions Padraig Harrington (2015, 2005), Michael Thompson (2013), Rory Sabbatini (2011) and Camilo Villegas (2010).
Honda’s purse this year is $8.4 million. It is sandwiched between four events with at least $20 million in prize money. Those are the PGA Tour designated elevated events and require the best players in the world to play: the Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational the two weeks prior and followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.
Those who play all four and chose to enter Honda will be playing five consecutive weeks.
Horschel has seven career PGA Tour victories, the most recent the 2022 Memorial. He decided in October he would play Honda.
“I like playing a lot of the same places,” Horschel said. “I like going to places that I enjoy the course, enjoy the fans and support I get, enjoy the tournament directors and the staff that puts on the tournament.”
Horschel has played Honda 10 times. He has two top 10 finishes, including tied for fourth in 2017, five shots behind champion Rickie Fowler. He never has backed down from the challenges of playing the Champion Course.
“It requires a player who is on top of their game,” he said. “You can’t fake it around PGA National. I’ve always enjoyed playing that golf course. It requires a little bit extra than other PGA Tour courses that we play.”
Im has averaged more than 30 tournaments in his four years on the PGA Tour, playing Honda each of those. He followed his 2020 title with an eighth-place in 2021 before missing the cut last year.
Im’s 2020 Honda title is one of two on the PGA Tour along with winning the Shriners Children’s Open in 2021.
Straka held off Shane Lowry last year for his lone win on the PGA Tour.
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