Feb 17, 2021
Palm Beach County Home-Grown Stars Koepka, Berger Commit to Play in the 2021 Honda Classic
The last two tournament champions on the PGA TOUR have committed to play in the 2021 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event which will return to PGA National Resort & Spa March 15-21.
Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Brooks Koepka and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am champion Daniel Berger, both Palm Beach County natives and residents, will take on a world class field in this year’s tournament.
Koepka, who was the No. 1 player in the world for eight months leading into last year’s Honda Classic, chipped in from 32 yards out on the 17th hole on Sunday February 7 in Phoenix and made a routine par on the 18th hole to put the final touches on a closing round of 66. The victory ended an 18-month struggle with left knee and hip injuries and helped the 30-year-old Koepka regain the confidence that helped him win four major titles in recent years – the 2019 PGA Championship, the 2018 U.S. Open and PGA and the 2017 U.S. Open.
He began the final round five strokes out of the lead and recorded the largest comeback of any tournament winner on the PGA TOUR in the past two years.
“I went through it mentally,” said Koepka, who grew up in Lake Worth and attended Cardinal Newman High before playing at Florida State University. “I think that’s probably the toughest thing, where you don’t know if you’re ever going to be the same competitor that you were. You go through some real dark places, and it’s not a fun place to be.”
Berger, who attended Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer High before also going to FSU, can relate to mental challenges from his own struggles with a lingering wrist injury and his experience in the late stages at Pebble Beach last Sunday.
When Berger played the picturesque 18th hole on Saturday, he flared his drive to the right and it sailed inches out of bounds, leading to a double-bogey that cost him a share of the lead going into Sunday.
In the final round, he walked up to that same 18th tee tied for the lead. This time, Berger pounded a 276-yard drive right down the middle and then followed that with a 250-yard three-wood shot that stopped 30-feet from the cup. Berger drained the putt for eagle to claim his fourth TOUR victory after also winning the Charles Schwab Challenge in June.
“I feel like I got a little bit of revenge on the 18th,” Berger said. “I knew it was going to be a tight finish and I just stepped up there and hit a great drive and hit maybe the best 3-wood I’ve ever hit in my life and the putter was just kind of icing on the cake.
“It’s so hard to win out here. I feel like everything has to come together to win and I was able to do that this week. I’m just trying to get better in every aspect of my game and I feel like I’ve accomplished that, and I’ve set some really high goals and I feel like I’m not scared to put in the work.”
It was a little over a year ago that Berger had dropped to 152nd in the world because of his wrist problems and was concerned about his career.
“When I was hurt, I thought, man, I’m never going to be able to play golf again without feeling like I was going to be hurt and not be able to do the things I know I needed to be able to do to prepare and play my best golf,” Berger said. “I thought I didn’t really love the game until it was taken away from me for three or four months and then I was really sad. I think I was a bit lucky to have the team of doctors that I had to really get me back to a 100 percent.
“Now it’s a nonissue. I never think about it. It never bothers me and it’s really something that I can put behind me in the past.”
Berger moved up to 13th in the world with the Pebble Beach victory.
“I’m not the most talented guy out here,” he said. “I don’t hit it the furthest. But I’ll outwork anybody.”
The Classic in The Palm Beaches has released a limited initial allotment of tickets for public sale as it continues its plan to welcome a reduced number of fans to this year’s tournament.
Grounds tickets for each day of competition are now available for $60. Public hospitality tickets at the Champions Club on the 18th hole and the Waterford Club at the 17th green are $325.
The Bear Trap, which usually winds around the 16th green and 17th hole tee box area, is being re-imagined into three sections with limited seating in socially-distanced blocks of two and four seats. Bear Trap tickets are $200.
With the primary focus on the health and well-being for all involved with the tournament and the local community, daily attendance will be limited.
The initial allotment of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at thehondaclassic.com along with limited number of on-site parking passes that don’t require shuttles ($100). Nearby parking is also available at the PGA of America lot ($50) and the BallenIsles lot ($25).
There will be no on-site ticket or parking sales this year. All purchases must be made in advance at thehondaclassic.com. Anyone interested in hospitality can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be social distancing guidelines at all areas. Protocols will be put in place that include the mandatory use of facial coverings, social distancing and other health and safety measures. All permanent and temporary structures will have complete daily sanitation along with all golf carts and vehicles used in tournament operations. All interactions from start to finish including ticketing, admissions, merchandise, and concessions will be contactless and safety measures regarding food preparation and distribution will be in place.