Honda Classic 2014: Daily Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

Honda Classic 2014: Daily Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Honda Classic ended with a thrilling four-way playoff won by 24-year-old Russell Henley at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Another epic collapse from Rory McIlroy opened the door for the playoff.

    Henley stepped right in as he calmly outperformed the other players on the sudden death hole.

    McIlroy was again left kicking himself.

    After shooting a seven-under 63 in the opening round and carrying a two-shot lead through 54 holes, he shot a four-over 74 on Sunday. He needed a big birdie on the 18th hole just to qualify for the playoff.

    You might be wondering what happened with Tiger Woods. He struggled most of the tournament. To add insult to injury, he was forced to withdraw due to back pain, per Brian Wacker of PGATour.com.

    It was a wild finish to one of the more important early season tournaments on the PGA Tour. In the end, Henley walked away with the winner's share of the $6 million purse.

    Flip through the slideshow for a day-by-day analysis of all four rounds and the playoff.

Round 4 Recap

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    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Russell Henley sunk a clutch birdie putt to end a four-way playoff and captured the Honda Classic Sunday. After shooting a two-over 72 in Round 4, Henley outlasted Ryan Palmer, Russell Knox and 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy.

    On the decisive hole, Henley reached the green in two shots. He couldn't sink the eagle, but he was the only man to make birdie of the four.

    Chalk up another disappointing choke job on the resume of McIlroy. He came firing out of the gates in the first round with a seven-under 63. His four-under 66 on Friday had him in great position, but things got progressively worse on the weekend.

    McIlroy shot a one-under 69 in Round 3 and completely imploded on Sunday. After a mishap on the 12th hole, things went awry. 

    He had five bogies and a double bogey on the day, and like two others in the playoff round, he failed to sink the birdie putt he needed to continue the playoff. He finished the round with a four-over 74.

    Here's a look at the final leaderboard.

    Pos.PlayerRound 4Overall
    1 Russell Henley* +2 -8
    T2 Ryan Palmer -1 -8
    T2 Rory McIlroy  +4 -8
    T2 Russell Knox  +1 -8
    5 Billy Hurley III -1 -7
    T6 David Hearn  -3 -6
    T6 Will MacKenzie   E -6
    T8 Sergio Garcia -3 -5
    T8 David Lingmerth   E -5
    T8 Luke Donald +2 -5
    T8 Stuart Appleby +2 -5

     

    Tiger Withdraws

    The other big story of the day was the withdrawal of Tiger Woods on the 13th hole because of back pain. Woods has been struggling in the two tournaments he's played, and though he reached par on Sunday, he was still five over par at the time of his withdrawal.

    When asked about the severity of the injury and if he'd be able to play at Doral next week, Woods didn't want to elaborate. Per Bob Harig of ESPN, Woods said this after he left the course:

    "It's too early to tell. I'll get treatment every day to try and calm it down. Don't know yet. We'll see how I am, wait till Thursday and see how it feels."

    Without a doubt, the sports world will have its eyes glued to Woods updates over the next few weeks. Here's more on Henley's day.

     

    Henley's Day

    The 24-year-old from Macon, Ga., captured his second PGA Tour victory, but Sunday wasn't his best of the tournament. Like McIlroy, his play descended as the tournament progressed. He started out with a six-under-par 64, and then shot two straight two-under 68s followed by Sunday's two-over 72.

    That said, when he needed to be clutch, he proved he could be.

    This could be the type of victory that helps to shape his game moving forward.

Round 3 Recap

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Rory McIlroy slowed down in his third round with a 69, but he still did enough to hold onto the lead at the Honda Classic.

    Here is a full look at the leaderboard heading into the final day:

    PositionPlayerScoreRound 3
    Rory McIlroy-1269
    2Russell Henley-1068
    3Russell Knox-968
    T4Jhonattan Vegas-866
    T4Stuart Appleby-765
    T6Keegan Bradley-766
    T6Luke Donald-768
    T6Ryan Palmer-769
    T9Matt Every-665
    T9Cameron Tringale-666
    T9Nicholas Thompson-666
    T9Ted Potter Jr.-667
    T9Billy Hurley-667
    T9Rory Sabbatini-668
    T9Daniel Summerhays-669
    T9Will MacKenzie-669

    Full leaderboard can be found via PGATour.com

     

    While McIlroy still has the lead, the big story of the day was the rise of Tiger Woods. After barely making the cut while even though the first two rounds, he came back with one of his best performances of the season in Round 3.

    Woods had seven birdies with only two bogeys on the day and was outstanding on the greens. His best shot was probably his 54-foot putt to grab a birdie on No. 11. His 65 kept him in contention of the leaderboard at five-under, tied for 17th.

    Of course, McIlroy was just fine as his normal, aggressive self. He did have three bogeys, but he still improved his score to minus-12 and will take a two-stroke lead into Sunday.

    Brendon de Jonge—who was one stroke back after 36 holes—shot a 76 to fall far out of contention.

    This kept the door open for Russell Henley and Russell Knox to make a run, both of whom finished with a 68 on Saturday.

    Two outside contenders to keep an eye on in Round 4 are Stuart Appleby and Keegan Bradley. They shot a 65 and 66, respectively, and each have the skill and experience necessary to keep this momentum up for a strong finish.

    Luke Donald has also won quite a few tournaments in his career and should not be counted out. He did not have a single bogey in Round 3 after suffering two doubles in Round 2.

Round 2 Recap

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Rory McIlroy continued his dominance on the Championship Course at PGA National, following up his 63 with a 66 on Friday to move to 11 strokes under par. However, players like Brendon de Jonge and Lee Westwood are creating a challenge as well.

    Here is a full look at the current leaderboard:

    PositionPlayerScoreRound 2
    Rory McIlroy-1166
    2Brendon de Jonge-1064
    3Russell Henley-868
    T4Lee Westwood-765
    T4Russell Knox-763
    T6Jamie Donaldson-669
    T6William McGirt-669
    T6Ryan Palmer-666
    T9Daniel Summerhays-565
    T9Chris Stroud-566
    T9Boo Weekley-567
    T9John Senden-563
    T9Thomas Bjorn-566
    T9Luke Donald-568
    T9Derek Ernst-569
    T9Will MacKenzie-568
    T9Brendan Steele-566

    Full leaderboard can be found via PGATour.com

     

    McIlroy was not as smooth at the start of the second round as he was in the first. After a flawless opening round, the European star bogeyed in two of his first three holes.

    However, he was quickly able to turn things around with birdies on No. 16 and No. 18 to get back to even at the turn. In the front-nine, McIlroy once again showcased his ability with four birdies, including sinking putts of over 25 feet on both the fifth and seventh holes.

    De Jonge was able to pull even with McIlory at minus-11 after getting seven birdies in his first 14 holes. Unfortunately, a pair of bogeys down the stretch put him one stroke off the lead entering the weekend.

    Russell Knox also had one of the better days, posting an impressive 63 to go from even to seven-under in a day. If he can keep up this type of performance over the week, he can provide a serious challenge to the leaders.

    Meanwhile, Lee Westwood remains one of the bigger names on the leaderboard after climbing to seven strokes under par thanks to some impressive approach shots. He has the skill and experience necessary to pass those in front of him.

    Finally, Tiger Woods narrowly made the cut. He's in a tie for 66th after getting back to even par for the tournament. A birdie on 13 ended up being the difference for Woods.

Round 1 Recap

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Rory McIlroy had one of his best rounds in years as his seven-under-par 63 was enough to lead the field after the first day of action in Florida. However, Russell Henley ensured that this would not be a runaway and sits just one stroke back thanks to an opening round of 64. 

    Here is a full look at the current leaderboard after Round 1:

    PositionPlayerScoreRound 1
    Rory McIlroy-763
    2Russell Henley-664
    T3Rory Sabbatini-565
    T3William McGirt-565
    T3Jamie Donaldson-565
    T6Brendon de Jonge-466
    T6Derek Ernst-466
    T6Tommy Gainey-466
    T6Brice Garnett-466
    T6Matt Every-466

    Full leaderboard can be found via PGATour.com

     

    Rory Sabbatini looked like he was going to be the man to beat thanks to a big start in the morning session. He was aggressive in his opening round and it paid off as he was able to notch seven birdies in an impressive 65 on Thursday.

    On the other hand, William McGirt went in the other direction as his bogey-free day included three birdies and an eagle to match Sabbatini at five under.

    However, McIlroy blew these scores away with an almost flawless performance in Round 1. All of his scores were par or better and he finished with seven birdies on the day. Most impressive was his 45-foot putt on the 11th hole, which can be seen at PGATour.com.

    If he continues to play like this, there is no one else on the leaderboard capable of beating him.

    Henley kept himself in contention, though, thanks to five birdies in six holes to start his round. He only finished with a 65, but the talent is there for the 24-year-old golfer to remain in the competition.

    Tiger Woods did not have quite as good of a day with a one-over 71, but it was not without plenty of excitement. Starting on the back nine, the superstar earned a par on his first eight holes before scoring a birdie on 18.

    However, the front nine featured a lot more inconsistency as two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey dropped him to one stroke over par. He will enter Round 2 eight strokes off the lead.

    Phil Mickelson might also struggle to make the cut after shooting even par in his first round. Both of these veterans will have to pick up their play in the second round if they want to remain in this competition.