Garcia shoots 66, shares Round 1 Masters lead

By Will GrayApril 11, 2013, 11:08 pm

Pristine conditions greeted players and patrons alike Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club, where low scores were there for the taking in the first round of the Masters. Here is how things stand after 18 holes, as Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman share the early lead in the season's first major:

The leaderboard: Sergio Garcia (-6), Marc Leishman (-6), Dustin Johnson (-5), David Lynn (-4), Rickie Fowler (-4), Fred Couples (-4), Trevor Immelman (-4), Matt Kuchar (-4)

What it means: With ideal conditions and little wind, players took full advantage Thursday at Augusta National, as 45 of the 93 players in the field were able to shoot par or better. While two share the lead at 6 under, several players were able to break par and remain within striking distance, including Tiger Woods (70) and Phil Mickelson (71).

Round of the day: Garcia's round began with a birdie on the first hole and only improved from there. The Spaniard added red numbers at 3 and 6 en route to playing his first 10 holes Thursday in 5 under. Ultimately, Garcia would notch six birdies without dropping a shot, breaking a string of eight straight over-par rounds at Augusta National with a sterling 66 in the opening round.

Best of the rest: While Leishman deserves credit for matching Garcia's 66, one of the day's more eventful rounds belonged to Fowler. After opening with a double bogey on the first hole, he played the next eight holes in 4 under to get his round back on track before faltering with another double bogey at 10. He was able to erase with an eagle at 15, though, ultimately becoming the first player since Raymond Floyd in 1992 to shoot in the 60s at Augusta despite two double bogeys. In total, his route to a 4-under 68 was as follows: two double bogeys, six birdies and an eagle. Pretty standard stuff, really. 

Biggest disappointment: With all of the distractions facing a defending champion at this event, it should not be entirely surprising that Bubba Watson got off to a slow start Thursday. Still, Watson's opening round of 3-over 75 remained a disappointment, putting the southpaw into a tie for 64th after the first round. He was able to muster just one birdie against three bogeys, failing to birdie either of the par-5 holes on the second nine Thursday.

Main storyline heading into Friday: A year after telling reporters at Augusta that he was not equipped to win a major title, can Garcia continue his fine form into the weekend? The Spaniard has contended in several majors before, but questions have always lingered about whether he has the mental toughness to become a champion. The Spaniard has a chance to silence his critics with more play the likes of which he displayed on Thursday.

Shot of the day: Jamie Donaldson was in the midst of an inauspicious round when he stepped to the tee at the par-3 sixth hole. There, the Welshman fired a 7-iron from 180 yards downhill that barely left the flag, ultimately finding the hole for an ace en route to a 2-over 74 Thursday. It was just the 24th hole-in-one during competition in Masters history, and the first recorded at the sixth hole since Chris DiMarco pulled off the feat in 2004.

Quote of the day: 'I feel really good with the putter ... and I can't wait to get back out on the course tomorrow, because I feel like I can light it up.' – Mickelson

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).