Feb 11, 2020
Mitchell Commits to Defend Title at The 2020 Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Keith Mitchell, who won the 2019 Honda Classic in dramatic fashion with a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole, has committed to defend his title in the 2020 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event which will be played February 24-March 1 at PGA National Resort & Spa.
Mitchell made the biggest putt of his professional career last March with Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler anticipating a three-way playoff for the $1,224,000 winner’s check. It was his first PGA TOUR victory.
A world-class field will challenge Mitchell at the 2020 Honda Classic led by world No. 2 and PGA champion Brooks Koepka, No. 10 Justin Rose, No. 11-ranked Tommy Fleetwood, No. 15-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, U.S. Open champion and No. 16 ranked Gary Woodland, The Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, 2005 and 2015 Honda Classic champion Padraig Harrington, 2014 Honda champion Russell Henley, 2011 Honda champ Rory Sabbatini, 2013 Honda champion Michael Thompson, 2010 Honda champion Camilo Villegas and 1999 Honda champion Vijay Singh.
Other early commitments have come from Jupiter resident Daniel Berger, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Billy Horschel, Ryo Ishikawa, Russell Knox, Charl Schwartzel, Jhonattan Vegas, and Jimmy Walker.
Players have until Friday February 21 to commit to play in The Honda Classic.
Prior to his amazing performance at The Honda, Mitchell had experienced a gruesome combination of success mixed with heartbreak in tournament golf.
He was an All-American at the University of Georgia, but never won a collegiate event.
Mitchell’s only victory since turning pro in 2014 was a mini-tour event in North Carolina.
He would often come close and fall just short. Mitchell lost a three-man playoff in Brazil on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2015. He had a tie for third in the News Sentinel Open in his native Tennessee on the Web.com Tour. And in August 2017, he had a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole in the final regular-season event of the Web.com Tour at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland. Making the putt would have secured his PGA TOUR card. He missed it.
So this 15-footer he stared down on the 72nd hole at The Honda Classic with $1.224 million on the line was not a gimme by any stretch of the imagination. There were a lot of demons to exorcise. Mitchell talked afterward about the thousands of times he had thought about that previous missed putt at Pumpkin Ridge. He tried to use the misses of the past as motivation.
“I wanted to see what it was like on the other side,” Mitchell said. “Everyone gets their start somewhere, everyone gets their first win somewhere. I wanted this to be mine.”
So with Koepka and Fowler waiting and anticipating an epic playoff, Mitchell slid the ball into the middle of the hole and ended those thoughts as well as the tournament.
“If I make par, I got a playoff with two of the best players in the world and potentially Hall-of-Famers of all time,” Mitchell said. “That’s a big thought for a guy that’s on his second year of TOUR that’s never won. I was able to execute and that’s something I haven’t been able to do in the past.”
Mitchell got himself into position to win on Sunday with a brilliant shot to four feet at the par three 15th, his third birdie in four holes. That put him in a five-way tie for the lead.
When he got to 18, everything was in front of him. Mitchell pulled his drive into the fairway bunker, eliminating his chance of going for the green in two on the par 5. So he ended up with a wedge from 129 yards on this third shot, gave himself the opportunity to change his life, and made it happen.
“I knew what Keith was going through on the last, having been there,” said Fowler. “It’s not easy winning out here, especially your first. So seeing him make that putt, it’s cool.”
Mitchell finished sixth the next week at Bay Hill and went on to place at No. 50 in the Fed Ex Cup, the first Top 50 finish of his career. He headed into 2020 seeking more victories and greater consistency. He recently finished 16th in Phoenix and 32nd at Pebble Beach.
Every day he takes with him the experience of winning The Honda Classic. He was asked what advice he would give himself with the victory firmly embedded on his resume.
“Not living and dying on every swing,” Mitchell said. “I did not play perfect golf (in winning The Honda Classic), but at the end of the day it was good enough. I think that’s why the best players in the world are always at the top. They’re not playing perfect every week. They’re just managing their games and managing the golf course, managing their emotions better than everyone. I never even put myself in a place that I had a chance to win on the last couple holes because of probably some emotions that took over early. I played a lot better than I did in winning, but I didn’t manage my game or manage myself better than I did.”
Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages for the 2020 Honda Classic are on sale at thehondaclassic.com or by calling 1-844-8Honda8 (844-846-6328).