By Ann Liguori
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Adam Scott did what he needed to do Sunday to win the Honda Classic, one day after one big mistake nearly cost him dearly.
Scott shot a 4-under-par 66 in the third round, despite depositing two balls in the water on the par-3, 15th on his way to an unfathomable quadruple-bogey.
However, the 35-year-old Aussie was able to shake it off as he birdied the 17th and went on to Sunday’s final round tied for the lead at 9-under with Sergio Garcia.
Par ended up being enough as Scott relied on his short putter — The anchored putting stroke was banned, effective the first of the year — to beat Garcia by a stroke for his first win since taking The Colonial in 2014.
The drama unfolded on the Champions Course, one of five courses at PGA National Resort & Spa. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course features the infamous “Bear Trap” — holes 15, 16 and 17, which are widely considered one of the toughest stretches in golf.
“I never dreamed that these holes were going to play that difficult coming down the stretch,” Nicklaus said on Sunday, “but that wind comes through and comes through at an odd angle around these trees and … if you’re playing right-to-left you’re going to put it in the right bunker and if you cut it left-to-right, you’d better have enough on it or you’re not going to get it there. So that hole plays very tricky.”
That was quite the understatement from The Golden Bear as he addressed the challenge facing the players on those three holes, not to mention the difficulty of the 465-yard, 14th and the location of the pin placement on the 18th green on Saturday.
The Honda Classic’s success is largely due to the tournament having become one of the most fan-friendly venues in all of golf. From the Gosling Tent packed with rum lovers and the numerous other hospitality tents overlooking the 17th hole, to the huge tent selling refreshments on the 9th tee, the Bear’s Den on 14, the super-lush hospitality tents that line the 18th fairway and green and the open access of the hotel lobby and bar to thousands of spectators throughout the week, it’s obvious why attendance continues to grow at this tournament. Fans are very much catered to and made to feel very much a part of the week’s festivities.
And if you think PGA National is just a golf destination, you’ll just have to check out everything else the Resort & Spa has to offer. From the 33,000 square-foot Sports & Racquet Club, to The Spa, a 40,000 square-foot European-like sanctuary, the stunning pool area and lawn, plus a spacious meeting and conference area, there’s something for everyone.
And perhaps the nicest touch of all during the week of the Honda Classic is a fireworks display that takes place every night over the lake by the resort pool area, which would rival any.
It’s the little things that matter and add up for an overall enjoyable experience and it looks like PGA National and the Honda Classic certainly understand that. Scott’s win, along with his perfect-looking swing, provided a most fitting finish for a glorious week.
Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori