There were a few low scores out there, but the Champion Course at PGA National also took a toll when players strayed. Here’s how things look after the opening round of the Honda Classic, where Jhonattan Vegas holds an early lead:
Leaderboard: Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Ernie Els (-4), Lucas Glover (-4), Zach Johnson (-4), Ben Silverman (-4)
What it means: Vegas has contended at the Honda before, notably a T-4 finish two years ago, and he’s again in the mix after opening with a bogey-free 64. That score came among the early wave and stood up all afternoon, with Glover getting within a shot before bogeying his final hole of the day. The Venezuelan now has three major champs in close pursuit as he looks for his fourth career PGA Tour title and first in nearly two years.
Round of the day: Vegas made a tough course seem easy, carding six birdies without dropping a shot. Vegas made his move on the back nine, teeing off on No. 10 and then making four birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 12-18. It’s a rare bright spot for a player who tied for 10th in Phoenix but has otherwise struggled to start the year.
Best of the rest: No, your eyes do not need checked. That’s Ernie Els’ name on a leaderboard, as the 49-year-old turned back the clock with an opening 66. Els made a watery double bogey on No. 15 but was otherwise flawless, carding three birdies on each nine. Els won here back in 2008, but his opening-round score matched his best effort at PGA National since the final round in 2009 and was just his fifth time breaking par in that span.
Full-field scores from the Honda Classic
Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos
Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott has played well in recent weeks and won here three years ago, but a putting switch failed to pay dividends during an opening-round 72. Scott made a double bogey on his second hole of the morning and added two bogeys over his final three holes, leaving him eight shots off the lead and in need of a strong rebound in order to make the weekend.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Don’t sleep on the star-studded crew at 3 under. Among those three shots behind Vegas after solid openers are reigning Player of the Year Brooks Koepka, who traditionally struggles here but made six birdies Thursday, former Masters champ Sergio Garcia, who enters off a T-6 finish in Mexico, and 2017 champ Rickie Fowler, who struggled to a triple bogey on No. 6 but was otherwise error-free.
Quote of the day: “I thought the way the club was going to hit the tree it was just going to break, and being at home, I was like, ‘All right, I just have to avoid a 9-iron the rest of the day.” – Justin Thomas, whose 9-iron from behind a tree on No. 10 didn’t break but instead suffered a shaft bend after making contact with the tree trunk. Thomas made bogey en route to a 2-under 68.