Sunday, December 17, 2017
Golf

Sergio Garcia is co-leader after first round of Honda Classic

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Sergio Garcia made an eagle, avoided an alligator and wound up in a share of the lead Thursday in the Honda Classic.

Garcia holed out with an 8-iron from 142 yards into the wind on the second hole for an eagle, and he narrowly missed an eagle putt on the 18th hole at PGA National. The Spaniard shot 5-under 65 and shared the lead with Michael Thompson, who also birdied the last hole.

Rickie Fowler and William McGirt shot 66.

The biggest excitement for Garcia was on the par-4 sixth hole, where he made his lone bogey. His tee shot found the water left of the fairway, shallow enough for him to roll up his pants and try to play it out. He looked over his shoulder because of an alligator on the island, making sure it wasn't going anywhere soon.

"I was more worried about the alligator that was on the other side of the island than getting out of the water," Garcia said.

Garcia missed the cut last week at Riviera, two days in which he said he did nothing well. Hardly anything went wrong for him in the Honda Classic, and even when it did, he managed to avoid trouble. Garcia had to play a 40-yard hook from the rough left of the 10th fairway to just short of the green for a simple par.

Fowler had the only bogey-free round, which included a chip-in for par on the 10th hole. McGirt was more on the wild side by making seven birdies.

"Anything in the red is good around this place," McGirt said.

For the early starters, it was a rude welcome to the Florida swing — chilly and wind gusts that approached 30 mph.

Phil Mickelson shot 69, among 10 to break par in the morning. The wind eased slightly and the warmth returned briefly in the afternoon.

Rory McIlroy wasn't in a happy place when he finished. Standing outside the scoring area, he smacked his putter on the concrete before going inside to sign for a 72. It wasn't an awful score, but the finish led to his angst.

He hit the face of a bunker on the 14th hole and went into another fairway bunker, put his third in more sand left of the green and made double bogey. After a birdie on the 15th, McIlroy came up short into the bunker on the 16th for a bogey, and he finished his round with a three-putt bogey from 10 feet.

LPGA: Lexi Thompson had two eagles and shot 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Q Baek in the first round of the Thailand tournament in Chonburi. Amy Yang shot 66 and Azahara Munoz and Jenny Shin were at 68. Brittany Lincicome of Seminole (75) was tied for 60th. Ranked No. 4, Thompson could overtake No. 3 Stacy Lewis as the top-ranked American with a win. "I think I was just very confident," Thompson said. "I committed to all my shots, just aiming at pins and focused on doing my routine."

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