Gore Fires 61 Leads In Arizona
Branshaw temporarily held the lead and the course-record as he got in the clubhouse first with 61, to finish at 16-under. Patrick Sheehan, who had set the course mark of 62 on Thursday, is 14-under-par and fell to third place. Rob Bradley and Shane Bertsch are one stroke behind Sheehan at minus-13.
Gore matched the Buy.Com Tour's all-time 36-hole score of 125, set by Jeff Freeman in the final two rounds of the 2001 Fort Smith Classic. The players will now shoot for the Buy.Com tour-record of 26-under-par, first set by Chris Smith at the 1997 Omaha Classic and matched by Todd Barranger at last year's Dayton Open.
'With this golf course, anything can happen,' said Gore. 'The greens are so good you just have to get the ball moving forward on line and it'll go in. Somebody can come out and shoot 61 on me tomorrow.'
Gore, who has won twice on the Buy.Com Tour this season, started on the back nine at the Whirlwind Golf Club's Devil's Claw. His round started slowly with birdies on 11 and 15. However, Gore jump-started his round with an eagle on the par-5 17th.
'I've tried to realize that you don't have to play perfect golf all the time,' Gore said. 'You don't have to hit every shot perfectly. All of a sudden you start believing you're good. You start believing in yourself. I don't know what I'm doing and I don't want to know.'
After turning to the front side, Gore sank three consecutive birdies starting at the first. He then parred the fourth and fifth, before beginning another stretch of three straight birdies at the sixth.
'All I've been trying to do the last five or six weeks is keep it going,' said Gore, who posted his career-best round. 'You can't get ahead of yourself. It's just staying in the moment and adding them up at the end.'
Branshaw got rolling with consecutive birdies starting at the third. After a par at the fifth, he birdied three straight holes beginning at the seventh. Branshaw did not slow down after he made the turn.
Branshaw had back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 and then closed with a flourish. He birdied 16 and eagled the par-5 17th to close out his 61.
'You're not that fearful out here this week,' said Branshaw.
Gore and Patrick Moore, who is tied for 12th at minus-10, are two of the four two-time winners on the Buy.Com Tour this season. Cliff Kresge, who is tied for 19th at 9-under, and Arron Oberholser, who missed the cut, are the other two-time winners.
If one of these four were to win and become a three-time winner, that person would get the automatic Battlefield Promotion to the PGA Tour. Four players have previously gained this promotion -- Smith in 1997 and Heath Slocum, Chad Campbell and Pat Bates in 2001.
Anthony Painter, Charles Raulerson and Barranger are tied for sixth place at 12-under 130. They are one stroke clear of James McLean and Chris Couch.
Moore is tied with Doug Garwood, Kevin Durkin, Jason Dufner, Vic Wilk, Victor Schwamkrug, Kelly Gibson and Dave Schreyer at 131.
Full-field scores from Gila River Classic
Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar – Eddie Pepperell, Gregory 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.
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.
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
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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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
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: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; 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:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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).
Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand
CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.
Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.
''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.
''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''
Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.
Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.
''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.
Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.
Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.
''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.
She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.
Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.