Golf

Attendance up as Honda extends Classic sponsorship for five years

Adam Scott of Australia waves to the crowd after winning the Honda Classic on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Adam Scott of Australia waves to the crowd after winning the Honda Classic on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. AP

The Honda Classic was held in bright, sunny weather last week in Palm Beach Gardens, and the attendance results were also bright and sunny.

The tournament attracted 202,128 spectators — breaking the 200,000 mark for the first time — Monday through Sunday on the Champion Course at the PGA National Resort & Spa. Those fans watched Adam Scott win by a stroke over friend and rival Sergio Garcia.

The previous high attendance at Honda was 193,052 in 2014.

The victory was particularly beneficial to Scott. He had stated that he wanted to “become relevant” as one of the world’s best golfers, and he accomplished that, moving from 13th to breaking into the top 10 at No. 9.

Even Honda runner-up Garcia moved from 19th in the world to 12th.

The weather was much better in 2016 rather than 2015, when strong storms hit and the Honda had to be carried over to Monday.

The tournament has parlayed new big-name players — Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, among them — into transforming the event in the past decade from a so-so tour outing into one of the tour’s best events under executive director Ken Kennerly’s direction.

“People enjoy coming to the tournament and they have a great time,” Kennerly said. “It really has become the place to be each year.”

The Honda Classic is also one of the PGA Tour’s most stable events, and Honda just made it more stable — announcing that it has extended its sponsorship for five years.

What more could Kennerly do to spruce up the tournament?

He was asked if maybe, just maybe, he could get world No. 1 Jordan Spieth to sign up to play in the 2017 Honda.

“We’ll certainly try,” Kennerly responded with a smile.

Working against him is that Spieth has an extremely crowded schedule near the Honda dates.

COMPTON BENEFIT

PGA Tour golfer Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplants in his life, held his annual golf charity tournament to help transplant awareness and support on Tuesday at International Links/Melreese Country Club.

“It has been a great success,” Compton said of the tournament.

Among the people showing up were Garcia.

Also attending were golfers Henrik Stenson, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Gonzalez Fernandez-Castano and baseball player Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez.

“It was nice to see so many people having a good time,” Compton said. “It means a lot for all of us with transplants.”

DOHERTY CHAMP

Sebring’s Kendall Griffin, who turned 17 a week before the tournament, won the 84th Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge Country Club.

Griffin took an early lead against Parkland’s Julia Matzat and recorded a 4-2 victory.

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