Thursday 22 February 2018

Mixed start for Rory McIlroy at Honda Classic

Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.
Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.

Rory McIlroy endured a mixed start to his bid to win the Honda Classic at Palm Beach.

The world number one teed off at 5.45pm English time but soon found himself two strokes off par, double-bogeying the par-four first.

He played the second in par, and then reduced the damage with a birdie on the par-five third to sit one over after three.

At that stage, American Jim Herman was the leader, having signed for a five-under 65 on a windy day in Florida.

Compatriot Brendan Steele was a shot further back, with McIlroy's former Ryder Cup team-mate Padraig Harrington back in the clubhouse with a three-under 67 to his name.

Martin Kaymer was also done for the day, the German carding a 68, while it was a tough start for Lee Westwood who ended one over. Similarly Sergio Garcia was two over for his round.

McIlroy was looking in danger of doing worse than either of them, though, as he again ran into trouble.

He bogeyed the par-four fourth and then recorded a second double-bogey of the day on the par-three fifth.

That left him four over through seven and nine behind clubhouse marker Herman, who remained at the head of the field.

American Ryder Cup player Patrick Reed was threatening him, though, going four under across the first eight holes of his round.

Jamie Donaldson also started well, three under after four holes, birdying the second, third and fourth.

McIlroy trimmed a shot back on the eighth with a birdie three, but he was unable to get a run going and was soon back to four over with a bogey five on the 11th.

Reed was maintaining his assault at the top end of the leaderboard, four under through 11, but Donaldson dropped back a shot to two under after nine.

English duo Paul Casey and Luke Donald started to emerge through the field, the pair two under after 10 and 11 holes respectively.

It was a welcome continuation of form for Casey, who last weekend went to a play-off at the Northern Trust Open before being edged out by James Hahn.

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