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)