Noren, Simpson share Honda Classic lead after Tiger shoots 70
Alex Noren and Webb Simpson carded four-under-par 66s for a one-stroke lead at the Honda Classic, where Tiger Woods is four shots back.
No first-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win the Honda Classic since 2003 but Alex Noren and Webb Simpson are both hoping to end that run after setting the pace Thursday.
The last player to win the PGA Tour tournament after ending the opening round atop the leaderboard was Justin Leonard 15 years ago.
But Swede Noren and American Simpson staked their claims with four-under-par 66s for a one-stroke lead at PGA National Golf Club.
Noren and Simpson were almost flawless, only dropping one shot apiece while posting five birdies in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Round 1 of @TheHondaClassic is complete!— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 22, 2018
1. @WebbSimpson1, -4
1. Alex Noren
3. @JustinThomas34, -3
Full leaderboard: https://t.co/9SCmHx2WxV pic.twitter.com/BFkaA2Nm35
Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is one of five players within a shot of the duo.
Thomas started his round on the back nine and made four consecutive birdies starting with the par-five 18th, but two bogeys on his last four holes made for an unsatisfactory end.
Tiger Woods stormed into an early share of the lead at the Honda Classic before carding an even-par 70.
Playing back-to-back tournaments having missed the cut at last week's Genesis Open after making his competitive return at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods birdied two of his first four holes.
A thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/O1WnEYRZ4R— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 22, 2018
The 14-time major champion, however, suffered a double-bogey at the par-five third hole – his 12th – following the turn but he remained composed as he birdied the next before achieving par for the remainder.
Fellow American Rickie Fowler recorded a one-over-par 71, a shot better than defending Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who had four birdies and six bogeys on a difficult day.
Former world number one and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy – playing in his current hometown – also ended the round two over alongside Garcia.