Spencer Levin Leads After First Round at the Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida - After fleeing the frost and snows of the high desert of Arizona and the cold rain of Los Angeles, the PGA Tour began it’s Florida swing in the sub-tropics of Palm Beach, Florida Thursday. That was the good news.
The bad news is that the opening day of the 2011 Honda Classic on the Champions Course at PGA National was a wind blown struggle for most of the field where the stroke average was almost four over par, the highest of the year.
Only eight players finished under par with Spencer Levin leading the way at 3 under, followed by Stuart Applelby, Charl Schwartzel, Kyle Stanley, Greg Chalmers and Y. E. Yang at 2 under and Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar at 1 under.
Getting a break by playing in the morning, Levin was content, “Yeah, happy with my round. It was very difficult as you could tell by the scores out there. It's a heck of a golf course. Those last four holes are hard anyway. And then you throw a 30-mile-an-hour wind in your face on three of them, it makes it even that much more difficult. So very, very pleased with 3-under.”
After birdying the third and bogeying the fifth hole, Levin made three straight birdies at nine, ten and eleven. Probably more importantly he was able to par out including the infamous Bear Trap loop of 16, 17 and 18.
“Yeah, I'm really happy with that. I think the guys in my group did, as well. We all hit good shots. I think we all hit the green on 17. We were saying, I wonder if another group all day, all three have hit the green. That hole was tough. Then 16, I hit a bad drive. A couple bad drives I hit today I had a good lie, which doesn't happen all the time. So that contributed to my score, as well. I was fortunate in that way. Like you said, in no wind at all, four pars is great. So I knew going into that, honestly I was thinking if I could play them 1-over, you know, 1- or 2-over, it would not be a train smash but even is a bonus.”
There were almost 50 balls hit in the water hazards at the Jack Nicklaus designed Champions Course with half of them at the par 3, 17th hole. There was carnage aplenty. Chris DeMarco made an 8 at 16, shot 45 on the back and 82 on the day and promptly withdrew. Adam Scott also made an 8 on the 15th hole. Defending Champion Camilo Villegas shot 42 on the front side and posted a 79. Seven golfers failed to break 80 and there were more than a few others still on the course in danger of doing the same when play was suspended because of darkness.
Nick Price, at 54, the oldest in the field and playing this year on the PGA Tour on a one time Top 50 exemption, shot a stellar even par round of 70. “I drove the ball really well today, which was probably the key to my round. I've been hitting it well the last two or three weeks out on our tour, and I've been a little balky with the putter and I worked on the putting last week, changed putters and got some cute new ideas that I experimented with last week, and it worked. And I putted really solidly today, but I drove the ball well. I kind of wore my long irons out today. I don't think I've got much groove left on them. Every time I got to the hole, it was 190, 195; we normally get 135, 145."
"So I knew the scores were going to be high today and to be patient. Earlier I was saying it was U.S. Open-type conditions and being patient in these conditions is really important.“
First Round Leaders:
1) Spencer Levin (USA) 67, -3
2) Stuart Appleby (AUS) 68, -2
Charl Schwartzel (RSA)
Kyle Stanley (USA)
Greg Chalmers (AUS)
Y.E. Yang (KOR)
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