Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Herman Leads at Windy Honda Classic

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Herman Leads at Windy Honda Classic

Article excerpt

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. * Playing in America for the first time this year, Rory McIlroy's first shot was a 2-iron out of play.

A relentless wind with gusts that approached 35 mph provided a rude welcome to just about everyone Thursday at the Honda Classic except for Jim Herman, who somehow made it around PGA National without a bogey for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead.

McIlroy managed to salvage a tough day with by holing a 30-foot birdie putt and two-putting for birdie on the 18th hole for a 3- over 73. It was his highest opening-round score to par since a 3- over 74 at The Barclays seven months ago. But he didn't seem too bothered.

The world's No. 1 player was competing for the first time since he won in Dubai a month ago. And he wasn't alone. He played with Dustin Johnson, who birdied his last two holes for a 77, and Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka, who shot a 78.

"The conditions were obviously very tricky from the start," McIlroy said. "From the first hole, it was always going to be a day like that. I feel like I salvaged something out of the round the last couple holes, but it was just a day to keep trying, not to give up and know that anything around level, 1, 2 over par still isn't out of it."

Only 19 players managed to break par. Only three holes both par 5s and the downwind ninth played under par. Seventeen players had a front-nine score of 40 or higher.

Herman didn't mind the wind, though he moved to south Florida more than a decade ago and was surprised earlier in the week when there wasn't hardly any wind at all. Even with a 65, it still wasn't easy. He twice saved par from the fairway and rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.

"I don't mind it blowing," Herman said. "I feel like I can control the golf ball pretty well with my iron game. So yeah, it was OK that the wind was blowing."

Brendan Steele pitched in from 35 yards to save bogey on the 14th, a key moment in his round of 66. Martin Flores, Kapalua winner Patrick Reed and Padraig Harrington were at 67. …

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