No first-round leader has ever won Honda Classic at PGA National and one of them missed the cut

Jim Herman prepares to start his round late in the afternoon on the tenth tee during the second round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on February 27, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Jim Herman of Palm City was the first-round of the Honda Classic last year with a 65 but finished tied for seventh, three shots out of the playoff between Padraig Harrington and Daniel Berger. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

There were three 67’s in the morning group Thursday and there may be better scores in the afternoon, but no guarantees ever come with the Honda Classic first-round lead.

Matter of fact, no Thursday leader has ever won the tournament since the Honda moved to PGA National in 2007. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald came closest, with each playing to runnerup finishes.

Camilo Villegas is the saddest story of all. He opened with a 64 to take the first-round lead in 2013 and missed the cut with a second-round 77.

It’s a major challenge stringing together subpar rounds on the Champion. Last year Padraig Harrington was the 36-hole leader but shot a 71 on Saturday to fall three shots behind 54-hole leader Ian Poulter. Eventually Harrington won the tournament in a playoff with Daniel Berger, but an even-par 70 is all he could manage in the final round.

Here’s a chart of Honda first-round leaders over the last nine tournaments and how they finished.

Yr     Player                  1st Rd           Finish         Winner

2007 Charlie Wi               65               T13             Mark Wilson (1st-rd 72)

2008  Luke Donald           64               2nd               Ernie Els (1st-rd 67)

2009   Robert Allenby    66               T5               Y.E. Yang (1st-rd 68)

2010   Michael Connell   65               T6               Camilo Villegas (1st-rd 66)

Nathan Green       65               T12

2011   Spencer Levin         67             T14             Rory Sabbatini (1st-rd 71)

2012   Davis Love III           64             T21             Rory McIlroy (1st-rd 66)

2013   Camilo Villegas       64             MC             Michael Thompson (1st-rd 67)

2014   Rory McIlroy           63               T2               Russell Henley (1st-rd 64)

2015   Jim Herman           65               T7                 P. Harrington (1st-rd 67)

[An educated guess at the winning score in this week’s Honda Classic]

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