PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Matt Jones’ opening spherical on the Honda Basic was outstanding.
He was remarkably unimpressed.
Jones tied the course report Thursday on a usually windy day at PGA Nationwide with a bogey-free 9-under 61 giving him a three-shot lead. He matched the mark set by Brian Harman within the second spherical in 2012, and was one shot higher than the final-round 62 that Tiger Woods posted that 12 months.
“That’s an unbelievable spherical of golf,” mentioned Lee Westwood, who opened with an even-par 70. “Could possibly be the spherical of the 12 months, 61 round right here, when it’s flat calm, spectacular. However when there’s a 15-, 20-mile-an-hour wind blowing, greens are quick, quite a lot of crosswinds, that’s an unbelievable spherical of golf.”
All instructed, there have been roughly 6,000 event rounds on the Honda because it moved to PGA Nationwide in 2007. None was higher than the one Thursday from Jones, an Australian ranked No. 83 on the planet.
He appeared most unfazed afterward.
“I play golf for a dwelling,” Jones mentioned. “I imply, I ought to be capable to shoot a very good golf rating sometimes. It would not occur as a lot as I need. However sure, I am very proud of it. I used to be very calm, I used to be very relaxed on the market. I am usually a bit extra amped-up and hyped-up and I had a distinct aim this week, to be just a little extra calm than usually and stroll slower.”
It labored wonders.
He isn’t into charting superlatives. He doesn’t know what number of course data he holds, or what number of holes in a single he’s made. He wasn’t even conscious he had 4 consecutive birdies on the entrance 9 Thursday till he noticed his card on a large leaderboard as his spherical was ending.
“I used to be simply managing the golf course and hitting good photographs,” Jones mentioned.
Russell Henley and Aaron Sensible shot 64s, matching the perfect rating on the Honda by anybody — Jones excluded — since Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox had 63s in 2014. No person within the area final 12 months shot higher than a 66.
And Henley and Sensible nonetheless walked off the course three photographs again.
“That’s an incredible spherical,” Sensible mentioned. “However I felt like I performed one, too.”
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, Scott Harrington, Kevin Chappell and Cameron Davis shot 66. Defending champion Sungjae Im opened with a 68.
Jones had the 4 consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-5, had others on the par-4 eleventh and par-4 thirteenth, then completed with birdies on every of his closing three holes and by no means dropped a shot regardless of the Honda’s normal windy situations.
Adam Hadwin, who performed in Jones’ group, mentioned “good shot” extra occasions than he might depend.
“I simply stopped saying it at a sure level,” Hadwin mentioned. “He simply hit so many, you simply cease saying it. You’re just below the idea that it was good.”
Jones has only one PGA Tour victory, that coming with a chip-in to win a playoff on the 2014 Houston Open. He hasn’t made the minimize in a significant because the 2016 British Open and has by no means completed higher than tied for fourth on the Honda, doing that in his debut on the occasion in 2008.
“No matter Matt Jones is doing, I wish to see it as a result of 61 out there may be unbelievable,” mentioned Shane Lowry, who shot 67 in his opening spherical. “That’s simply unbelievable.”
It was nonetheless a befuddling day for a lot of. Graeme McDowell performed the “Bear Lure” stretch — the par-3 fifteenth, par-4 sixteenth and par-3 seventeenth — in 6 over, after making a quadruple bogey at 15 and a double bogey on 17. And Hunter Mahan had a six-hole stretch during which he made, so as, eagle, bogey, bogey, triple bogey, bogey, birdie.
Mahan completed at 77, McDowell at 79.
“It’s simply so onerous, so difficult,” Lowry mentioned. “There’s quite a lot of catastrophe holes.”
Jones, no less than for someday, averted all of them.
“It was an excellent day,” he mentioned.
DIVOTS: Amongst notables, Zach Johnson was in a bunch six photographs again after capturing 67, Rickie Fowler completed even par and Phil Mickelson shot a 1-over 71. … Sean O’Hair (80) withdrew after the spherical and James Hahn withdrew after 16 holes with a rib damage. … Erik Compton, a South Florida native and two-time coronary heart transplant recipient, completed at even par. Compton was a Monday qualifier this week. … That is the fifteenth time the Honda is being performed at PGA Nationwide. No first-round chief on this course has gained the event; the final first-round chief to win the Honda was Justin Leonard in 2003 at Mirasol. … The earlier finest first-round rating on the Honda was 62 by Tim Herron in 1996, at Eagle Hint.
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