Noren, Simpson Share Early Lead at The Honda

Alex Noren
Credit: Getty Images/

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson carded matching 4-under 66s on Thursday at PGA National and share the lead after round one of The Honda Classic.

The co-leaders, Noren and Simpson, each signed for a scorecard with five birdies against one bogey – Simpson bogeyed No. 16, while Noren dropped a shot on 18.

After his round at a windy PGA National, the 36 year-old Noren cited his performance around the greens as the key to sharing the day’s low round.

“I played quite steady my front nine, which was the back nine, and then I kind of scrambled my way around the front nine,” said Noren, who finished T2, T21, and T16 in three starts on the West Coast Swing.

“It’s very tricky. You have to hit the fairways, you have to hit the greens, and it’s a tough golf course. This was by far the best putting and chipping round so far this season.”

Simpson, making his fourth start in Palm Beach Gardens, posted just his second career sub-70 round here.

“It feels good. Anything in the red figures here is good,” said Simpson, who has one top-10 in six starts this season.

“It’s a really hard golf course, and it looks like it’s going to be windy all week, so I told myself, any score under par, I’m doing something right.”

Justin Thomas, who started the day on the back nine, moved into the early lead at 4 under following a run of three-straight birdies on hole Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (his 10-12). But a pair of late bogeys down the stretch, offset by just one more birdie, dropped the 24-year old star to 3-under par 67, good for T3, alongside Morgan Hoffmann, Daniel Berger, Mackenzie Hughes,and Louis Oosthuizen.

The 67 for Thomas was his career-low round at the Honda Classic.

“It was a good day. Solid day. Just kind of picking my way around there. I had some opportunities to make some birdies and I felt like I capitalized on those. And on a tough windy day like this was a great start,” said Thomas, who has now posted 14 consecutive rounds par or better – the best current streak on the PGA Tour.

Russell Henley is one further back at 2-under 68, following a round which included five birdies, five bogeys and one hole-out eagle. Jamie Lovemark, who posted four birdies against one double bogey, also signed for a 66, as did Dominic Bozzelli.

Tiger Woods is at even-par 70, one shot clear of defending champion Rickie Fowler, who struggled to an opening-round 1-over 71.

Three of the tournament headliners, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Rory McIlroy, finished at 2-over 72.


TOP 10

1 Alex Noren -4
1 Webb Simpson -4
3 Morgan Hoffmann -3
3 Justin Thomas -3
3 Daniel Berger -3
3 Mackenzie Hughes -3
3 Louis Oosthuizen -3
8 Dominic Bozzelli -2
8 Jamie Lovemark -2
8 Russell Henley -2

NOTABLES

12 Jason Dufner -1
12 Thomas Pieters -1
20 Tiger Woods E
20 Tommy Fleetwood E
20 Ryan Moore E
36 Rickie Fowler +1
54 Jim Furyk +2
54 Sergio Garcia +2
54 Patrick Reed +2
54 Rory McIlroy +2
69 Gary Woodland +3
69 Adam Scott +3
139 Kevin Kisner +9
141 Smylie Kaufman +13
WD Bud Cauley +10


THE LEADERS’ STATS

ALEX NOREN

  • 8 of 14 Fairways (57.1%)
  • 12 of 18 Greens (66.7%)
  • 1.583 Putts Per GIR
  • 287.4 yards Driving
  • 12 Pars, 5 Birdies, 1 Bogey, 0 Double

WEBB SIMPSON

  • 9 of 14 Fairways (64.3%)
  • 11 of 18 Greens (61.1%)
  • 1.545 Putts Per GIR
  • 296.5 yards Driving
  • 12 Pars, 5 Birdies, 1 Bogey, 0 Double

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS


QUOTABLE

“It’s very windy. Very windy conditions, fast, firm greens. I played mostly decent, and a great short game and good putting. That kept me going today I think, yeah.”
– Alex Noren


Credits: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media



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