The PGA Tour's Florida Swing begins Thursday with the Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches (formerly the Honda Classic) at PGA National.

The 144-person Full-Field Event includes bigwigs like Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tom Kim, and Rickie Fowler. Chris Kirk will seek to become the first person since Jack Nicklaus (1977-78) to go back-t0-back at PGA National (he's also gunning for his second win of the season, after The Sentry).

Rookie Jake Knapp impressively won the Mexico Open last weekend. He's in the field, playing with McIlroy for the opening two rounds.

The winner will earn 500 FedExCup points and take home $1.62 million of the $9 million purse.

Following the Cognizant, the PGA Tour will head to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a Signature Event (concurrent with the Puerto Rico Open), then TPC Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS Championship. The Florida Swing will wrap with the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort.

Here's what to know ahead of the action at the Champions Course in Palm Beach Gardens.

How to watch (all times ET)

  • Thursday – Friday: 2-6 p.m. Golf Channel/Peacock
  • Saturday – Sunday: 1-3 p.m. — Golf Channel/Peacock, 3-6 p.m. — NBC/Peacock
  • Stream various feeds and groupings at PGA Tour Live (via ESPN+)

Course notes

PGA National — designed in 1981 and reworked by Nicklaus as recently as 2018 — is among golf's most daunting tests. Four of the last six Honda/Cognizants have produced single-digit under-par winners. In 2023, Champion played as the tour's 10th toughest venue among non-majors, per average score-to-par (all four Florida Swing courses rank in the top 10).

The relatively short 7,147-yard course became a Par 71 after its 10th hole was lengthened by about 30 yards, into a 530-yard Par 5. No. 10 is one of only three holes without water hazards, so it's looking like a must-birdie.

The “Bear Trap” (holes No. 15-17) presents a gauntlet. No. 15 is a dangerous par-3 with a bunker and lake surrounding a cornered green. No. 16 requires a brutal second shot across the water onto one of the tougher greens on the course (this is bogey central). No. 17 is another par-3 with water lurking.

Trees are sparse, and wind will be a factor. The fairways are narrow-ish (average 30 yards). Driving accuracy — more so than distance — and strong iron/approach play will be essential to success. Ball placement off the drive will determine birdies or double-bogeys. Scoreboard shake-ups can happen at any moment. Avoiding the Big Mistake can make all the difference.

Navigating the fast and firm Bermudagrass — a change-up from the bumpy poa annua in California — poses a tricky test with the flatstick.

Tee Times

Notable groupings:

  • Sepp Straka, Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im — starting on Hole No. 1, 12:40 p.m.
  • Tom Kim, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose — Hole No. 1, 12:51 p.m.
  • Nick Dunlap, Akshay Bhatia, Cameron Young — Hole No. 10, 7:51 a.m.
  • Rory McIlroy, Chris Kirk, Jake Knapp – Hole No. 10, 7:40 a.m.

The Favorite: Rory McIlroy (+700, according to FanDuel)

McIlroy triumphed at PGA National in 2012 — fending off a roaring final-round 62 from Tiger Woods. McIlroy was T2 in 2014 but hasn't contended since. He last competed in 2018. He's coming off an underwhelming West Coast Swing (no top 10s), but one would expect the World No. 2 to use his adopted hometown to hone his craft before The Masters. (In an interview on Golf Today, McIlroy said he moved to the area specifically because he loves playing PGA National.)

“Feel like my game is in pretty good shape,” McIlroy told the media Wednesday in Florida. “You know, it’s nice to stay at home this week and feel a little more I guess relaxed in the surroundings. Looking forward to getting started.”

McIlroy is easily the best golfer in town, but he's been prone to glaring one-hole mistakes in 2024. Gulp.


Tom Kim outright (+3000): I interviewed Kim this week, and he was awesome, so I'm pulling for him. He started the year a bit cold but has bounced back with top-25s at the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational. The 21-year-old (!) is back inside the top 5o in Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green.

Shane Lowry outright (+6000): The 2019 Open champ has carded top-fives in each of the last two years at Palm Beach Gardens. He's built to handle tough courses like this.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout Top 10 (+550): Bezuidenhout lives in Florida and historically torches Bermudagrass greens. The South African has produced solid golf this season — especially with his iron — highlighted by a runner-up at The American Express. He feels due for his first PGA Tour victory.

Eric Cole Top 20 (+135): The Floridian's playoff loss in last year's Cognizant kicked off his Rookie of the Year campaign. His driving is meh, but his approach, putting, and around-the-green stuff is top-notch on Bermudagrass. He already has five top 20s in 2024.

Sepp Straka Top 20 (+190): Straka won the 2022 Honda Classic and finished in the top five last year on his way to a Ryder Cup victory. The 30-year-old has gotten off to a quiet start in 2024, but he's deeply familiar with PGA National from his days at the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs.

One and Done – Russell Henley (+2500): Henley is an excellent driver supported by quality iron play, so it's no surprise that he triumphed at Champions in 2014. He finished top eight in each of the last two years. He's been wildly successful at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, which shares similarities with PGA National.

Other plausible contenders: Robert MacIntyre, Denny McCarthy, Byeong Hun An, Min Woo Lee, Keith Mitchell, Akshay Bhatia

Keep in mind: Every PGA Tour winner in 2024 has been at least a 40-1 longshot prior to Round 1.

Notable storylines

  • The Masters Qualifying: Invitations to the 2024 Masters (April 11-14) are still up for grabs. Winners of Full-Field events get an automatic bid, as do players in the top 50 of the OWGR one week before the tournament. 27 players in the Cognizant have already qualified for Augusta. A handful of entrants are in shouting distance of the top 50: Tom Hoge (56), Bezuidenhout (59), Stephen Jaegar (63), Beau Hossler (64), Brendan Todd (65), Alex Noren (67), Mark Hubbard (71), Keith Mitchell (77).
  • Jeagar has made 22 straight cuts. He's coming off a T3 in Mexico. He's in contention to finish second in the Aon Swing 5 — standings combining FedExCup points won in Mexico and the Cognizant — and gain access to the API. Via the Aon Next 10, the top 10 points leaders of 2024 through the Cognizant also gain entry to the API. Mexico runner-up Sami Valimaki leads the pack, followed by Jaeger, Justin Lower, C.T. Pan, and MacIntyre. Doug Ghim, Andrew Novak, Erik van Rooyen, and Carson Young are within 20 points of fifth place.
  • Rickie Fowler has experienced an inauspicious start to 2024. He's lost strokes to the field in eight straight starts for the first time, per Action Network. He hasn't sniffed the top of the leaderboard in the Signature Events. His last start resulted in a T35 at Riviera. However, he did win at PGA National in 2017 and was runner-up in 2019. He thrives in the Sunshine State.
  • Four qualifiers punched their ticket on Monday, including tour veteran Robert Carrigus.
  • Ryan Palmer will make his 500th career tour start on a sponsor exemption.
  • Rasmus Højgaard, brother of Nicolai, will make his PGA Tour debut. He has three straight top 10s worldwide. Should be fun to watch.
  • Finally, as always, a broadcast nugget for the geeks: 2023 European Ryder Cup captain and former World No. 1 Luke Donald will serve as NBC's lead analyst. If you weren't already a fan of Donald's intelligent, pleasant vibes, you will be after season two of Netfix's Full Swing. NBC has deployed a rotating cast of analysts this season, including Jim “Bones” Mackay and Kevin Kisner (in the Cognizant field). I'm here for it — these are engaging personalities with contemporary knowledge of the tour. I'd be shocked if Donald wasn't a great listen.