Mon, 30 Mar 2020

English, Lewis share lead at Honda Classic

Field Level Media
28 Feb 2020, 11:25 GMT+10

It was a double dose of English at the first round of the Honda Classic on Thursday, as Harris English and England's Tom Lewis share a one-shot lead after each delivered a 4-under-par 66 on the PGA National Champion course at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Both players entered this week's event on sponsor's exemptions and are making the best of it so far.

Zach Johnson and England's Lee Westwood are in a group of five tied for third place at 3 under in cold and windy conditions. That logjam also includes Cameron Tringale, J.T. Poston and Brian Stuard. Another shot back in eighth are Wyndham Clark, Brendan Steele and Doc Redman.

Lewis, a former European Tour member who earned his way onto the PGA Tour this year through the Korn Ferry Tour, used an eagle, two birdies and no bogeys to sit at 4 under. The solid round came one week after he missed the cut at the Puerto Rico Open.

"I wouldn't have expected this morning to go out and not drop a shot," Lewis said. "I holed a good five-foot putt for par on the first, and I expected more of that the rest of the day. But I holed some good par putts. The rest of the time, I gave myself opportunities, and I had to pace the greens, and that always helps."

Lewis, 29, delivered his eagle on the 540-yard, par-5 third hole when he hit his second shot from 225 yards to within 10 feet of the hole and drained the putt. Lewis has not made the cut in any of his four previous PGA Tour events this season.

English, whose two PGA Tour victories came in June and November of 2013, grabbed a share of the lead with an eagle, four birdies and a pair of bogeys on the 7,140-yard course. The 30-year old chipped in from 78 feet at No. 11 for birdie.

"I knew the wind was going to be off the right on that hole, and that's a popular spot to hit it on that hole," English said. "I clipped it perfectly. The wind was a little bit in off the left, so that helped a lot. Normally that shot is super fast, and I would probably putt it, but I don't want it back. That was as good as I can do."

English's eagle also came at No. 3, when he reached the green in two shots with a 207-yard approach and drained a 27-foot putt.

English, who is 30th in the FedEx Cup rankings, has played in nine events this season with his best finish a third-place result at the A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in September. The 30-year-old's best finish since Jan. 1 was a tie for 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Johnson also had a solid start in last year's Honda Classic with a 4-under-par opening round, but never was under par again and finished tied for 59th place.

"I'm pleased," Johnson said. "I mean, it's one day, but I'm very pleased with the execution and the opportunities that I gave myself."

Keith Mitchell, the 2019 Honda Classic winner, struggled in his opening round, shooting 75 with a double-bogey at the par-3 fifth hole and a triple-bogey at the par-4 11th. He is in a 12-way tie for 120th.

Justin Thomas, the 2018 winner, is not participating in this week's tournament, while 2017 winner and 2019 runner-up Rickie Fowler shot 76 and is in a tie for 132nd place.

Eleventh-ranked Tommy Fleetwood bogeyed two of his final three holes to finish at even par. He's the only player in the top 20 in the world without a PGA Tour victory.

No. 3 Brooks Koepka, the only top-10 player in the field, continued to struggle in his return from knee surgery. He carded double- and a triple-bogeys on the front nine in carding 74.

NOTES: The only other bogey-free round, other than Lewis, came from Kyoung-Hoon Lee, who finished with a 69. ... Last week's Puerto Rico Open winner Viktor Hovland shot 77, tied for his highest score in 61 career rounds on the PGA Tour. ... The last time Fowler was at 6-over-par after the first round, outside of a major championship, was at the 2018 Honda Classic. ... Ted Potter put three balls in the water en route to making a nine on the 15th hole. He was 9 over through the famous three-hole stretch known as "The Bear Trap." That is tied for the second-highest in relation to par since 2007, when Gavin Coles was 11 over on hole Nos. 15-17. ... Vijay Singh, now 57, finished solo sixth last year but also opened with a 76 on Thursday. ... Tiger Woods is skipping the event for the second consecutive year.

--Field Level Media

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