5 things: Wind makes for brutal day at Honda
Thursday, March 3, 2011
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Winds in excess of 30 mph and cooling temperatures made the Champion Course at PGA National a Florida horror show for the 144 players who teed it up Thursday. With a scoring average of 73.826 (that’s 3.826 over par), it was the highest scoring round at the Honda Classic since the event moved to PGA National in 2007.
It also was the highest scoring average on the PGA Tour this year. Not since the third round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last year has a single-round scoring average been higher over par.
Long Leaderboard - Nineteen players are in the top 10 with the first round near completion. The round was called Friday due to darkness with 12 players left to finish. Included in that list is Y.E. Yang, the 2009 Honda champion, Matt Kuchar, the 2002 champion, Nick Price and former World No. 1 Lee Westwood.
Of those four, Price, a regular on the Champions Tour, certainly is the surprise. Playing on his top-50 money exemption, the 18-time PGA Tour winner decided to tee it up at Honda because he lives in the area, but the course length is not to his liking.
“I’ve been hitting it well the last two or three weeks out on our tour, and I’ve been a little balky with the putter and I worked on the putting last week,” Price said after his even-par 70. “Changed putters and got some cute new ideas that I experimented with last week, and it worked.”
Bear Trap – The par-3 15th hole, the par-4 16th hole and the par-3 17th hole are designed to be difficult, but the combination was downright lethal, with a scoring average of 1.584 over par for the stretch known as the Bear Trap. To further illustrate that point, 66 scores in the stretch were recorded at double bogey or worse.
Steady Eddie - While everyone else was holding on to the women and children, Greg Chalmers was in full control, making no bogeys and two birdies.
“I kept the ball in play off the tee,” Chalmers said after his 68. “I think that’s the key. I stayed out of the rough, predominately on the front nine. The back nine was a little scratchy and ... I tried to not hit two bad shots in a row. If I could, I tried to get back in play and make par, and I managed to do that a couple of times after a poor tee shot.”
Vaughn Taylor gets an honorable mention. He didn’t make a birdie and had only one bogey on the way to a 1-over 71.
A higher power calling? - Brandt Snedeker shot a respectable 72 and promptly withdrew because his wife, Mandy, went into labor. The other casualty on Thursday from the first round was Chris DiMarco, with a wrist injury. After seeing his name on the leaderboard with a birdie on the first hole, DiMarco turned at 2-over 37 and then shot 45 on the back nine for 82. DiMarco was unavailable for comment and is on his way home.