The first round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National started this morning and boasts a field of many of the hottest players on tour so far in 2011. Jhonattan Vegas (Bob Hope Classic), D.A. Points (AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) and Luke Donald (WGC-Accenture Match Play) are each looking to increase their win totals to two, while Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Anthony Kim and Ian Poulter are all chasing their first win this year.

Staying consistent and capitalizing on birdie and eagle opportunities may not be the biggest challenge players face each round of the tournament. Though hazards are abundant and easy to find at the PGA National, no hazard compares to the overwhelming three hole stretch (15-17) appropriately named, The Bear Trap.

Advanced metrics show that the PGA National holds the second hardest three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour, just behind Quail Hollow's 16-18 holes. It's been an area of concern for golfers dating back nearly two decades when Mark Calcavecchia won his first Honda Classic in 1987.  The Bear Trap holds a +0.803 Relative-to-Par score (RTP), just below the +1.009 of Quail Hollow. These calculations do not factor in major courses.

It's no surprise Calcavecchia is the only player in the field to have won this tournament at this course twice. The field of winners isn't shy quality players who have played great golf over the years. This year's field of golfers have played an average of about 7 rounds total at the course, with an average of about 5 total-to-par. A breakdown of total-to-par of the field shows this three-hole stretch has been a daunting task for any golfer: 15th hole, 2.13; 16th hole, 1.01; and 17th, 2.34. The numbers may not mean much at first glance, but all you need to know is a few missteps in the Bear Trap will lead to a golfer's chances of winning the tournament to become nearly non-existent.

This chart shows the significant difference between the luck (and skill) of golfer's playing the Bear Trap. Forty-seven golfers fall into the average of 7+ rounds played at the PGA National and the fluctuation of total-to-par scores is spread from -1 to 20. That's an average of 8.07.

The field-to-par (FTP) scores just show how important is to do well in The Bear Trap: FTP for holes 1-14, 18: +1,621; The Bear Trap (15-17): +1,329.

So what does it all mean? Simple: survive The Bear Trap and you've got as good a chance as anyone to win the tournament. Easily said than done, though.

Top-5 Predictions:
1.McDowell, 2. Donald, 3. Fowler, 4. Kuchar, 5. Vegas

Click here for a more extensive breakdown of The Bear Trap and here for a tournament preview with some good analysis.

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FedEx Cup Standings

1. Mark Wilson, 1,055
2. Jhonattan Vegas, 751
3. Bubba Watson, 724
4. D.A. Points, 688
5. Aaron Baddeley

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