The Honda Classic was founded in 1972 as Jackie Gleasons’ Inverrary Classic. Gleason was a marquee name, a staple of the television variety shows of the time, and best remembered today as bus driver Ralph Cramden in The Honeymooners tv series and Minnesota Fats in the Paul Newman movie, The Hustler. His was one of a number of celebrity hosted tournaments, including the Crosby Clambake (now the AT&T National Pro Am), the Bob Hope, and the Glenn Campbell (now the Northern Trust).
American Motors served as title sponsor for one year (1981). In 1982, Honda began its long-running sponsorship of the tournament.
The Gleason was originally held at the Inverrary Golf Club in Lauderhill, Florida. In 1984, it moved to the TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Florida. From 1992 to 1995, it was held at the Weston Hills Golf and Country Club, then it was back to Eagle Trace for one year (1996). The TPC at Heron Bay hosted from 1997 to 2002. In 2003, the event moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, first at the Country Club at Mirasol through 2006, then starting in 2007 at PGA National Resort and Spa’s Champion Course. The move to PGA National was apparently in part an effort to attract more top players. That course is well regarded on Tour.
As of 2007 the tournament’s main beneficiary is the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which is chaired by Barbara Nicklaus, wife of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. Having the Nicklaus name attached to a tournament also can’t hurt.
Four men were multiple winners at the Honda:
Jack Nicklaus: 1977, 1978
Johnny Miller: 1980, 1983
Mark Calcavecchia: 1987, 1998
Pádraig Harrington: 2005, 2015
Nicklaus won three if you count his 1976 victory at the Players Championship which was held at the Jackie Gleason site at Inverrary.
Low round scores are held by Dan Pohl (1989), Hale Irwin (1979), Tim Herron (1996) and Jerry Kelly (2003)—all at 62.
Justin Leonard in 2003 holds the low 72 hole score at 264.
A list of Honda Classic winners follows.
|Year||Player||Country||Score||To par||1st Prize ($)||Purse ($)|
|The Honda Classic|
|2015||Pádraig Harrington (2)||Ireland||274||-6||1,098,000||6,100,000|
|2009||Y.E. Yang||South Korea||271||-9||1,008,000||5,600,000|
|2008||Ernie Els||South Africa||274||-6||990,000||5,500,000|
|2007||Mark Wilson||United States||275||-5||990,000||5,500,000|
|2004||Todd Hamilton||United States||276||-12||900,000||5,000,000|
|2003||Justin Leonard||United States||264||-24||900,000||5,000,000|
|2002||Matt Kuchar||United States||269||-19||630,000||3,500,000|
|2000||Dudley Hart||United States||269||-19||522,000||2,900,000|
|1998||Mark Calcavecchia||United States||270||-18||324,000||1,800,000|
|1996||Tim Herron||United States||271||-17||234,000||1,300,000|
|1995||Mark O’Meara||United States||275||-9||216,000||1,200,000|
|1993||Fred Couples||United States||207*||-9||198,000||1,100,000|
|1992||Corey Pavin||United States||273||-15||198,000||1,100,000|
|1991||Steve Pate||United States||279||-9||180,000||1,000,000|
|1990||John Huston||United States||282||-6||180,000||1,000,000|
|1989||Blaine McCallister||United States||266||-22||144,000||800,000|
|1988||Joey Sindelar||United States||276||-12||126,000||700,000|
|1987||Mark Calcavecchia||United States||279||-9||108,000||600,000|
|1986||Kenny Knox||United States||287||-1||90,000||500,000|
|1985||Curtis Strange||United States||275||-13||90,000||500,000|
|1984||Bruce Lietzke||United States||280||-8||90,000||500,000|
|Honda Inverrary Classic|
|1983||Johnny Miller||United States||278||-10||72,000||400,000|
|1982||Hale Irwin||United States||269||-19||72,000||400,000|
|American Motors Inverrary Classic|
|1981||Tom Kite||United States||274||-14||54,000||300,000|
|Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic|
|1980||Johnny Miller||United States||274||-14||54,000||300,000|
|1979||Larry Nelson||United States||274||-14||54,000||300,000|
|1978||Jack Nicklaus||United States||276||-12||50,000||250,000|
|1977||Jack Nicklaus||United States||275||-13||50,000||250,000|
|1976||No tournament. Inverrary Golf Club hosts The Players Championship. See below:|
|1976||Jack Nicklaus||United States||269||-19||$60,000|
|1975||Bob Murphy||United States||273||-15||52,000||260,000|
|1974||Leonard Thompson||United States||278||-10||52,000||260,000|
|Jackie Gleason Inverrary-National Airlines Classic|
|1973||Lee Trevino||United States||279||-9||52,000||260,000|
|Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic|
|1972||Tom Weiskopf||United States||278||-10||52,000||260,000|