Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler among early commits to Honda Classic

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Palm Beach County native Brooks Koepka is one of the few top-ranked golfers who make the Honda Classic a regular stop on his schedule.

That will not change this year with the four-time major winner among the early commits for the event scheduled for Feb. 24-27 at PGA National.

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Koepka, a former No. 1 in the world, is ranked 17th after battling injuries in recent years. He will be joined by fellow Jupiter residents Rickie Fowler and Luis Oosthuizen, and Delray Beach's Gary Woodland.

Oosthuizen has surged to No. 12 in the world ranking after finishing second or third in each of the last three majors. Fowler, a fan favorite, will play Honda for the 13th consecutive year. Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, missed the event last year after testing positive for COVID.

Hoping for a more attractive field

Honda is back to its late February date this season and once again kicks off the Florida Swing. Officials are hoping the move helps improve the field, which has suffered in recent years, mainly because of the schedule.

Last year, Honda was moved to the third weekend of March and many of the the world's top players skipped the event because it fell between two World Golf Championship tournaments and one week after The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Brooks Koepka hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort last month. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort last month. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 tournament, won by Matt Jones, included two golfers in the top 20 (No. 18 Sungjae Im and No. 19 Lee Westwood). Koepka and Jupiter's Daniel Berger, both in the top 15 at the time, entered but could not play because of injuries.

Big names who call Palm Beach County home have stayed away in recent years. That includes Jupiter's Dustin Johnson, who has not played Honda since 2015; North Palm Beach’s Patrick Cantlay, who has never played Honda; Jupiter’s Rory McIlroy, who skipped Honda the last three years; and Jupiter’s Justin Thomas, who sat out the last two.

Koepka, 31, has played every year when healthy since making his debut in 2014. A year ago, he was forced to withdraw one week before the tournament because of a right knee injury. Koepka said he is healthy once again and is looking forward to a solid season.

"I think everything's getting right where it should be,” he said, referring to his game and his new equipment deal with Srixon. “My game feels good. I feel good. I should be playing good.”

The equipment deal was announced in November. Since then, he finished tied for ninth at the Hero World Challenge in December and 28th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua three weekends ago.

Koepka, raised in Wellington, believes if healthy he can top his peak years. He won two U.S. Open championships and two PGA titles in a two year stretch in 2017-19. In 2019, he finished in the top four of all four majors.

"That wasn't peak," Koepka said. "That wasn't peak. Just wait."

Fowler has five PGA Tour victories, including the 2017 Honda Classic. He expects to break out of a three-year funk - his last tour victory was the 2019 Phoenix Open. He has dropped out of the top 100 after being in the top 10 as recently as 2019.

"It has been (about) going out and not worrying so much about the swing ... and hitting shots," Fowler said. "It's been fun to be back in a position where I can just go play golf. It's been a long time coming, but it is nice to finally start to see some results."

Rickie Fowler chips on to the 18th green during the third round of the 2021 Honda Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler chips on to the 18th green during the third round of the 2021 Honda Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Fowler tied for third at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas in October.

Others who have committed: Billy Horschel, ranked No. 23 in the world; No. 41 Westwood, No. 43 Tommy Fleetwood, Stewart Cink, two-time major winner Zach Johnson, and former Honda Classic champions Keith Mitchell, Padraig Harrington, Michael Thompson, Rory Sabbatini and Luke Donald.

Grounds tickets, Bear Trap tickets and other hospitality tickets and packages for the Honda Classic are on sale at thehondaclassic.com or by calling 1-844-846-6328.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler among those committed to 2022 Honda Classic

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