top of page

2024 PGA Tour Preview: Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

Coming off Jason Knapp's win at the Mexico Open at Vidanta this week, the PGA Tour begins its Florida swing with the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. With 144 players set to tee it up at PGA National, this stretch of golf in the Sunshine State will also include the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the next signature tournament on the Tour calendar, and the Players Championship. Highlighted by world number two Rory McIlroy, the three-time major champion is coming off a victory in The Match on Monday Night. However, he is still looking for his first victory on the season after a T66 finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Defending champion Chris Kirk will also look to repeat at the event. He knocked off Eric Cole in an emotional playoff victory a year ago.

The Course

Measuring 7,054 yards from the back tees, PGA National is a par 71 layout. Originally designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1980, the course was ultimately re-designed by Jack Nicklaus in 2014. It features Bermudagrass greens, commonly seen in the south, leading to increased speeds and less break on putts. Home to one of the most challenging three-hole stretches on Tour, the "Bear Trap" features two par threes sandwiched in with a challenging Par 4. Beginning with the 15th hole, it plays 180 yards from the tee while forcing players to carry the ball over a water hazard to the green. The pin is usually tucked in the back right corner on Sunday beside a greenside bunker, creating extra difficulty.

The Field

The Cognizant Classic may seem like a new tournament, but don't be mistaken; the championship was formerly known as the Honda Classic (and had been since 1982), but Cognizant took over as the title sponsor this year. The field features 19 players in the top 50 in the OWGR, and it is headlined by World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, 2017 winner Rickie Fowler, 2022 winner Sepp Straka, and last year's winner Chris Kirk. The event has traditionally featured some of the weaker fields out of the full-field events, but this year's tournament has a solid field, and part of that might be because it starts the Florida Swing, and the next two weeks will see the Tour visit Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and TPC Sawgrass for The Players.

Chris Gallagher and Everett Davidson contributed to this article.

Chris’ Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches Picks

Favorite: Byeong-Hun An

Nearly victorious at the Sony Open in Hawaii last month, An fell on the fourth playoff hole to the eventual champion Grayson Murray. He now has four top-20 finishes in his last five starts. The 32-year-old also placed fourth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions following a final round of 66 on Sunday afternoon. Over his previous 18 rounds, the South Korean native ranks 32nd on tour in Strokes Gained off Tee (0.445). Furthermore, he is also in the top 20 in proximity to the hole average (36' 2") and Driving Distance (307.2). With a strong track record at this tournament throughout his career, An placed T5 in 2017 before a T4 finish in 2019.

Favorite: J.T. Poston

Poston has played some of the best golf on Tour to begin the 2024 season. The 30-year-old has missed just one cut in six starts while grabbing three top-ten finishes. Coming off a T5 at the Sentry, he carded four straight rounds in the 60s, including a 65 on Sunday. The leader in the field in strokes gained over the last six months, Poston also ranks fourth on Tour in scoring average (70.015) and 15th in greens in regulation (74.51). Remaining one of the best putters on the planet, look for the nine-year veteran to benefit from the return to Bermuda grass greens after his success early on in the season in Hawaii. While his track record at the Cognizant Classic has not been spectacular throughout his career, the North Carolina native has missed one cut at the event in five attempts and should continue his strong stretch of play this week.

Sleeper: Shane Lowry

Following a disappointing start to his 2023 campaign, Lowry finished inside the top 20 in three of his last five starts to close out the year. The 36-year-old has historically played well during the Florida swing. He ranks in the top five in the field in Total Strokes Gained in the Sunshine State over the last three years. This is Mainly due to his success at PGA National. The Irish native has qualified for the weekend in all six of his starts at the tournament. He finished runner-up at the Cognizant Classic in 2022 before placing T5 last season. Searching for his first victory since the Open Championship in 2019, Lowry offers excellent value at 45/1 odds.

Everett's Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches Picks

Favorite: Cameron Young

Young has never won on Tour, but he has come close several times, and he has started this year well, with his two finishes coming into the Cognizant Classic being a T8 finish at the WM Phoenix Open and a T16 finish at The Genesis Invitational. He is making his second start in the first event on the Florida Swing, and he finished T16 here in 2022. Young is a consistent player who thrives on tough courses; in the Masters, the Open, and the PGA Championship, he has never made the cut and not finished in the top 10, and while this is not a major by any means, the course seems to usually be set up similarly. If Young is in contention on Sunday, don't be surprised to see him finally pull through and win his first PGA Tour event.

Favorite: Eric Cole

Cole lost in a playoff to Chris Kirk here last year, and don't be surprised if he goes one position better this year. Cole has been solid, if unspectacular, to start the year, with four top-20 finishes in his seven events, and his highest finish was actually in his most recent event, a T10 at The Genesis Invitational. Like Young, Cole has never won on Tour, but he has come close enough times to know that his first win is coming. Last year, he finished runner-up twice, and he ended last season with what was probably the best form out of any player on Tour; in his final five events of the season, he had four top-four finishes. Cole thrives on courses like PGA National, so don't be surprised to see him in the mix again on Sunday.

Sleeper: Justin Rose

The 2013 US Open Champion won his first tournament in four years last year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he has been trending solid as of late, with his most recent start on Tour being a T11 finish at Pebble Beach three weeks ago. Rose has only played here once since 2015, with a missed cut in 2020 being his lone start since, but in three straight starts from 2010-2013 (he skipped the 2011 event), his lowest finish was a T5. Rose thrives on tough courses, just like Young, and if he is in contention on Sunday, he knows how to win, something that Young and Cole have never done.

Main Image via


bottom of page