PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The Bear Trap didn’t inflict much damage during the opening round of the Honda Classic, as several players were able to get well into red figures amid calm conditions. Here’s how things look after the first round at PGA National, where a pair of rookies share the lead:
What it means: Both Bryan and Gribble posted their scores early, before conditions began to firm up on the Champion Course. While Gribble locked up a long-term card with a win in the fall, Bryan enters off a career-best T-4 finish at Riviera in search of his first victory. Both will look to keep at bay a group of contenders highlighted by Kaymer, who hasn’t won since the 2014 U.S. Open.
Round of the day: Bryan got off to a relatively slow start, playing his first eight holes in even par before a birdie on the par-5 18th. That sparked the reigning Web.com Tour Player of the Year, who fired a 5-under 30 on his second nine that included four birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 3-8.
Best of the rest: It doesn’t get much easier than finding every target in sight. That’s what Gribble accomplished Thursday, becoming the first player in tournament history to hit all 18 greens in regulation en route to a 64. Gribble racked up four birdies from Nos. 4-8 and bounced back from his lone bogey on No. 16 with a pair of birdies to close out the round.
Biggest disappointment: Branden Grace has contended at several majors and finished T-22 just last week at Riviera, but his stay in South Florida will be brief after an opening-round 77. Grace did not make a single birdie, struggled to a 6-over 41 on the back nine and withdrew from the event hours after finishing his opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: The two rookies will have a chance to separate from the pack, but PGA National tends more often to bring leaders back into the fold. So keep an eye on Kaymer as well as Fowler, who led this event at the halfway point last year before fading over the weekend. The star-studded group at 2 under that includes Sergio Garcia and defending champ Adam Scott also can’t be overlooked.
Shot of the day: Scott Stallings was over par for his round before an ace on the par-3 15th, the first in tournament history. Stallings holed an 8-iron from 184 yards en route to a 3-under 67.
Quote of the day: “It’s so different. I can’t even explain to you the pressure that you feel in that type of environment. It’s not real golf.” – Bryan on his last appearance at PGA National, which came during 2015 Web.com Q-School.