Harrington, McIlroy headline The Honda Classic


Defending champion Padraig Harrington feels ready to win back-to-back titles at The Honda Classic this week.

Harrington returns to the scene of his drought-ending triumph at the PGA National, starting on Thursday, with victory firmly on the agenda.

The Irishman emerged out of nowhere to end a seven-year wait for a title by outlasting Daniel Berger in a play-off last year.

Fast-forward 12 months and Harrington, who finished in a tie for sixth at the Tournament of Champions last month, believes he is in better shape compared to this time in 2015.

"I don't think it would be [unexpected] in the sense that I've shown better form so far this year, and plus, people are expecting me to be doing something out of the blue," Harrington said.

"If I get myself in contention with nine holes to play, I think my fellow players would see me as a threat."

Harrington added: "I need to be hyped up. I need that adrenaline - I need that buzz at the end of a round. I'm always a lot better when I'm afraid, when I'm fearful and nervous and got that stress on me."

Likely to stand in the way of Harrington's bid for a second Honda Classic crown is world number three and pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy returned to form at the Northern Trust Open last week as rival Jordan Spieth missed the cut.

The Northern Irishman was well in contention up until the final round, when he carded a 75, which included seven bogeys in a remarkable collapse, but will still be a threat in Palm Beach Gardens - particularly in the absence of Spieth.

Jason Kokrak and former world number one Adam Scott also make their way to The Honda Classic in good form. The pair finished just a shot adrift of Bubba Watson at Riviera.

Although he missed out on a maiden PGA Tour title, Kokrak showed he belonged with the big boys, while Scott produced an impressive putting performance to offer hope that his best golf is not too far away.

Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are also in the field.