Why the Honda Classic is moving tournament dates after Players in 2021

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Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly has been lobbying PGA Tour officials about getting a date change for the event, and he will get his wish.

Kennerly confirmed the tournament will be moved deeper into March next year.

Instead of leading off the Florida swing, the Honda Classic will be played March 18-21.

With the date change, the Arnold Palmer Invitational will lead off next year, followed by The Players and then the Honda Classic.

“In our opinion, after talking to players, it’s a better date,” Kennerly said.

The Honda Classic rebuilt its event with Kennerly taking over in 2007, with some elite fields responding to the tournament’s upgrades and its move to PGA National, but the revamped PGA Tour schedule unveiled two years ago added new challenges. The revamped schedule moved the Honda Classic into the middle of a hard run of five big events, a run that also included a more fortified finish to the West Coast swing. The Honda Classic was feeling the squeeze the last two seasons, with the Genesis Invitational and WGC-Mexico Championship preceding it and the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players following it. The WGC event was previously played at Doral in suburban Miami, which added convenience to players also wanting to compete at nearby Honda.

“We will have to see how it goes,” Kennerly said. “You never know what these guys are going to decide to play and what they’re going to miss, but we feel it will be better for us.”

The Masters was a factor in Honda’s move to the middle of March next year. With one less week on the calendar before the year’s first major, the Tour’s making adjustments. How that will affect the Valspar Championship’s dates has yet to be announced.

While the Honda Classic will remain among a hard run of big events, it will follow The Players in Florida, instead of the WGC event in Mexico, adding some scheduling convenience for players already in the state.

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have homes in South Florida but skipped this year’s event. Woods has missed the last two years.