David Drysdale enjoyed another good day at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, completing a bogey-free 7-under-par 33-31=64 to end round one of the weather-delayed Joburg Open in T3.
That's just two swings adrift of leader Paul Peterson. The Scot has a real love affair with South Africa and this event in particular. He secured top three finishes here in 2012 and 2009 and also cracked the top 15 in 2011 and 2013. Earlier this season, he was T11 in the Alfred Dunhill Championship and T7 in the South African Open so the World No. 312 was definitely a sleeper pick this week based on course and country form. In his opening lap at the easier West Course he secured his first birdie at 6 and then ticked three straight at 8, 9 and 10. Drysdale picked up further shots at 13, 15 and 17 and then enjoyed a quick break before dashing to the East Course to start his second round.
Jacques Kruyswijk returned to Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club's West Course Friday morning to finish off a bogey-free 8-under-par 33-30=63 and end the delayed opening round in solo second, just a single swing behind leader Paul Peterson.
A waterlogged course had caused play to be suspended early Thursday afternoon and further rain delayed the restart until 0930 local time this morning. When the action finally resumed, Kruyswijk finished off a back nine score of just 30 by making eagle-3 at No. 15 along with birdies at 10, 14 and 17. He'd picked up shots at 2, 5 and 6 on his front nine yesterday. The 24-year-old is playing this event for the third time and posted T31 last year. He won the Sunshine Tour's Cape Town Open in November and currently sits at 273 in the OWGR. Next up, he'll take on the tougher East Course where just six of the top 18 on the final R1 leaderboard played their first rounds.
Playing in a home game this week, Anirban Lahiri is off to a quick start at The Honda Classic, firing a 5-under-par 33-32=65 to find himself one of the early pacesetters Cody Gribble and Wesley Bryan.
On Monday Lahiri tweeted
out, "Time to regroup before @TheHondaClassic. Nice to sleep in my own bed this week. #homegame." He's taking full advantage of that local knowledge on day one. His ball-striking wasn't anywhere near the best in the field, finding just half of the fairways and landing 11 greens in regulation. However, it was good enough to set up scoring chances, and his flat stick capitalized on those opportunities. Lahiri splashed home nine putts from outside six feet, with a trio of putts falling from the 20-to-25 foot range. The 29-year-old walked off the course gaining 4.56 strokes putting on the day. It's safe to say Lahiri feels comfortable in Florida, his second home, and that makes him a serious threat to take home the trophy by week's end.
Rickie Fowler pieced together a 4-under-par 33-33=66 during round one of The Honda Classic, claiming a piece of fifth place after day one.
The Oklahoma State product steadied his way around PGA National's Champion Course by splitting 10 (of 14) fairways, landing 13 greens in regulation, and minimizing the damage with a 4-for-5 scrambling effort. The lone blemish came at the par-4 12th where he found himself in the pine straw behind a tree, forced to pitch onto the edge of the green and two-putt for bogey. It was all smooth sailing other than that hole. Fowler is no stranger to success at this venue. He found himself as the leader after 36 holes here last year and has now been inside the top 10 after eight of his last 18 rounds at the Honda.
With lift, clean, and place in effect, Ryan Palmer produced a 4-under-par 34-32=66 during the opening round of The Honda Classic, placing him in a share of fifth place after day one.
The Texan has struggled to find his form early in 2017 after taking some time off in the fall. He looked like vintage Palmer today, circling six birdies to offset a pair of bogeys on the difficult Champion Course at PGA National. The highlight of the round came at the par-4 11th when he stuck his 180-yard approach to just nine inches for a tap-in birdie. Palmer has historically struggled with the Bear Trap but survived the three-hole stretch at even-par today. His performance at this stretch will likely be the deciding factor for him as the week goes on.
Ian Poulter twirled a bogey-free, 4-under-par 31-35=66 during the opening round of The Honda Classic, placing him two strokes off the early pacesetters Cody Gribble and Wesley Bryan.
The Englishman opened on the 10th tee and scribbled 11 straight pars to kick things off. From there, he stiffed his 265-yard approach to 5'10" to set up a stress-free eagle at the par-5 third hole. Poulter found some momentum from that hole, splashing home birdie putts from 22'1" and 16'1" at the following two holes. The Englishman arrived with a 5-for-5 record at this event including a T3 in 2015. He's off to the races again this week.
Branden Grace withdrew from The Honda Classic following a birdie-free, 7-over-par 36-41=77 in round one. There was no injury cited the time of the WD. UPDATE: Grace alerted his fans via Twitter that he strained a muscle in his rotator cuff but expects to return next week.
The South African swallowed five bogeys and a double bogey without circling a single birdie in his navigation of PGA National's Champion Course. It was his third attempt at The Honda Classic, and he's now 1-for-3 with a T71 in 2013 still his best. There was no reason for the WD provided but we'll update if/when that information becomes available. Grace is currently committed to next week's WGC-Mexico Championship where gamers should be ready to jump back on board, unless an injury becomes apparent. UPDATE: Grace alerted his fans via Twitter that he strained a muscle in his rotator cuff but expects to return next week.
World No. 51 Martin Kaymer coasted to a 5-under-par 31-34=65 during round one of The Honda Classic, placing him one off the current co-leaders with playing winding down for the day.
The German was locked in from the start today. He missed just one fairway which help set up 15 greens in regulation. It was a truly balanced attack as he walked off the course gaining 1+ strokes over the field in all four sub-categories of strokes gained (off-the-tee, approach-to-the-green, around-the-green, and putting). Highlights included three birdie putts from outside 11 feet in addition to a chip-in birdie from 35'7" at the par-3 17th. Kaymer needed a sponsor's invite to crack the field this week, but he's taking full advantage of the opportunity so far.