Stiff winds balloon scores at PGA National


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The Bear Trap’s best defense showed up in full force Thursday at the Honda Classic.

Scoring conditions were difficult throughout the opening round at PGA National, as only 19 players in a field of 144 broke par. Winds were steady from 15-25 miles per hour, while gusts peaked at 34 miles per hour.

The field average of 72.28 was the first opening-round average above 71 since 2011, when the field averaged 73.88. Scoring was especially difficult for the afternoon wave, when the average of 72.92 was more than a full stroke higher than that of the morning wave (71.67).

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Only five players were able to break par during the afternoon wave, led by Patrick Reed’s 3-under 67.

Several big names succumbed to the opening-round crosswinds, including last week’s runner-up Dustin Johnson. Playing alongside world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Johnson carded a 7-over 77, while the third player in the afternoon’s marquee group – Brooks Koepka – shot a 78.

Other notably high scores came from Billy Horschel (75), Ernie Els (77) and Charl Schwartzel (79). The only two bogey-free rounds were both turned in during the morning wave by tournament leader Jim Herman (65) and Daniel Berger (68).