'Florida Swing' kicks off the road to the Masters

Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:39pm EST
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By Simon Evans

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (Reuters) - The PGA Tour's 'Florida Swing,' golf's unofficial start of the road to the Masters, begins on Thursday with world number one Rory McIlroy heading a strong field in the Honda Classic at PGA National.

In what promises to be a fascinating start to the build-up to the April 9-12 Masters, McIlroy, who first reached the top of the world rankings with a victory in this event in 2012, will head a field consisting of 16 of the world's top 25 players.

World number six Sergio Garcia, who missed out on a playoff by one shot at Riviera last week, will also be looking to fine-tune his game along with Germany's Martin Kaymer and England's Justin Rose, the last two U.S. Open winners, respectively.

American Russell Henley, who triumphed at last year's Honda Classic, is one of 12 former champions in the field. And while there is no Tiger Woods, who is taking a break from the game after form and injury issues, Phil Mickelson's presence should help excite the galleries.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner, said he is "just trying to put it all together" disappointing campaign last season.

"We'll see. I don't know when it's all going to come together," said Mickelson.

Another American, Rickie Fowler, is hoping to put his slow start to the year behind him and get into form in time for the year's first major.

"I am getting some things turned the right direction, (I need to) get some momentum going and getting back to being in contention and make it a fun year," said Fowler.   Continued...

Aug 5, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; PGA golfer Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland,  speaks during a press conference held during practice for the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports/Files