By MIKE BONTS
The 2014 Honda Classic has received early commitments from the top eight players in the World Golf Ranking giving the February 24-March 2 PGA TOUR event at PGA National Resort & Spa the feel of a Major.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Adam Scott, No. 3 Henrik Stenson, No. 4 Phil Mickelson, No. 5 Justin Rose, No. 6 Rory McIlroy, No. 7 Zach Johnson, and No. 8 Sergio Garcia have all committed into the field.
"This is an exciting time for The Honda Classic," Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. "We have worked tirelessly for the past seven years to make this a memorable event for the best players in the World as well as the golf fans of South Florida and the presence of the top players has allowed us to reach even higher than we ever thought imaginable.
"When you get a magnificent field like this, it is great for the players who love to compete against the best, it is great for the spectators who get to watch the elite players in the world and it ultimately is good for the children of our community who benefit from the success of the tournament."
Players have until approximately 6 p.m. on February 21 to commit into the field. But several other elite names have already committed to play.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champ who also won the RBC Heritage Classic in 2013 and is now ranked No. 15, will be in the field along with Charl Schwartzel (No. 18), 2006 Honda champ Luke Donald (No. 20), Hideki Matsuyama (No. 21), Keegan Bradley (No. 23), Lee Westwood (No. 33), and Louis Oosthuizen (No. 34).
The Honda Classic is also granting sponsor's exemptions to Thomas Bjorn (No. 25), Jamie Donaldson (No. 28), Matteo Manassero (No. 50), Brooks Koepka (No. 68), Peter Uihlein (No. 70) and Jesper Parnevik. Two more exemptions will be awarded.
Other players who have committed include Robert Allenby, 1997 Honda champ Stuart Appleby, Angel Cabrera, two-time Honda winner Mark Calcavecchia (1987 and 1998), Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke, Erik Compton, Retief Goosen, 2005 champ Padraig Harrington, 2000 Honda champ Dudley Hart, Charles Howell III, Trevor Immelman, Martin Kaymer, Sean O'Hair, 2011 Honda champ Rory Sabbatini, 1999 Honda champion Vijay Singh, 2010 Honda champ Camilo Villegas, Boo Weekley, Mike Weir, 2007 Honda champion Mark Wilson and 2009 Honda champion Y.E. Yang.
Woods will play The Honda for the third consecutive year, He finished tied for 37th in 2013 after making a frantic charge in 2012 with an eight-under par 62 on Sunday that left him in second, two strokes short of Rory McIlroy.
Scott, the reigning Masters Champion, missed the cut in 2011 in his only visit since The Honda moved to Palm Beach County. It will be only the fourth Honda start of his career, the others coming in 2003 (65th) and 2001 (11th).
Stenson missed the cut in 2013, but played much better in 2012 when he finished tied for 21st and he finished tied for 43rd in 2011.
Mickelson has not played in The Honda Classic since 2002, when he finished tied for 11th at the TPC at Heron Bay, and will be making his first appearance in Palm Beach County.
Rose has played exceptionally well at PGA National, finishing tied for fourth last year, tied for fifth in 2012 and in third in 2010.
Johnson has not played The Honda since 2008, when he finished tied for 30th, and is playing in the tournament for just the third time in his career.
McIlroy has been a fixture at The Honda since 2009, winning in 2012.
Garcia is returning to The Honda for the first time since 2010. He finished tied for 13th at PGA National in 2009.
Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages for the 2014 Honda Classic are on sale at thehondaclassic.com or by calling 1-866-846-6328. Proceeds from The Honda Classic, an IMG-managed event, benefit Children's Healthcare Charity, which awarded a record $2.13 million to South Florida children's charities in 2013.