The Honda Classic kicks off today at the PGA National Golf Club in Florida, with many of the world’s Top 50 golfers set to feature. Due to the difficulty of the course, climate, and competitive nature of the tournament, the Honda Classic is often described as the prefect precursor to The US Masters, which is set to take place in a little over a month’s time. The likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, and Sergio Garcia will be hoping to find their best form this weekend, to give themselves a fighting chance of claiming the prestigious green jacket at Augusta.
But is it essential to win a tournament in the weeks leading up to The Masters?
Looking at recent history, last year’s Masters winner Sergio Garcia prepared himself for claiming his first major with an emphatic win at the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic – a tournament that came just three months prior to the Masters. The year before, unlikely Masters champion Danny Willett also won the Dubai Desert Classic.
In fact, many of the last 10 winners of the Masters have found their best form in the months leading up to the tournament, with Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Charl Schwartzel making for some notable examples.
Like many professional athletes, golfers require consistent practice to maintain top form, yet it would be unfair to say that any of the aforementioned Masters winners were clear favourites when they succeeded in Augusta. Major tournaments can often bring out the best in the world’s leading golfers, making it difficult to predict a winner, but surely a pre-masters victory makes it a little easier to see the finish line.
Rory McIlroy weighed in on the argument earlier this week, and the Northern Irishman seems unconvinced.
“Obviously last year Sergio (Garcia) had won a tournament beforehand, Danny Willett the year before had won a tournament, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” said McIlroy
“To get a win under your belt going into it does make you feel a bit better but you don’t have to. I feel like that’s putting yourself under an awful lot of pressure.
“I’m close. I think positive thoughts and I’m very happy with where my game’s at. I feel like I’m just waiting for everything to sort of fit together. I feel like I’ve seen enough good things in my game over the past few weeks to know that it’s not far away.”