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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 23, 2018 1:00 am


Woods 4 back after his 70

Associated Press

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods had what he called “easily” his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it.

Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

“When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,'” said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder – a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt – in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

“It was very positive today,” Woods said. “It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.”

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who hit into water on the par-3 15th (for double bogey) and again the par-3 17th (for triple bogey) and finished at 73.

Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he hit a 3-wood a yard short of the green and into the water. He made double bogey and shot 72. 

LPGA: In Chonburi, Thailand, three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with an eagle putt to be among the four leaders after the first round of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 for a share of the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn. Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.

EUROPEAN: In 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.

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.