PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Matt Jones’ opening spherical on the Honda Traditional was exceptional.
He was remarkably unimpressed.
Jones tied the course file Thursday on a usually windy day at PGA Nationwide with a bogey-free 9-under 61 to take a 3-shot lead. He matched the mark set by Brian Harman within the second spherical in 2012, and was a shot higher than the final-round 62 that Tiger Woods posted that 12 months.
“That is an unbelievable spherical of golf,” stated Lee Westwood, who opened with an even-par 70. “May very well be the spherical of the 12 months, 61 round right here, when it is flat calm, spectacular. However when there is a 15-, 20-mile-an-hour wind blowing, greens are quick, plenty of crosswinds, that is 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 this planet.
He appeared most unfazed afterward.
“I play golf for a dwelling,” Jones stated. “I imply, I ought to have the ability to shoot an excellent golf rating sometimes. It does not occur as a lot as I would like. 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 puffed up and I had a unique objective this week, to be a bit of extra calm than usually and stroll slower.”
It labored wonders.
He is not into charting superlatives. He does not know what number of course information he holds, or what number of holes-in-one he is 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 pictures,” Jones stated.
Russell Henley and Aaron Smart shot 64s, matching the most effective rating on the Honda by anybody — Jones excluded — since Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox had 63s in 2014. No one within the subject final 12 months shot higher than a 66.
And Henley and Smart nonetheless walked off the course 3 pictures again.
“That is a tremendous spherical,” Smart stated. “However I felt like I performed one, too.”
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, Scott Harrington, Kevin Chappell, Joseph Bramlett 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 remaining three holes and by no means dropped a shot regardless of the Honda’s normal windy circumstances.
Adam Hadwin, who performed in Jones’ group, stated “good shot” extra instances than he might depend.
“I simply stopped saying it at a sure level,” Hadwin stated. “He simply hit so many, you simply cease saying it. You are just below the belief 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 serious because the 2016 Open Championship 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’s unbelievable,” stated Shane Lowry, who shot 67 in his opening spherical. “That is 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 by which he made, so as, eagle, bogey, bogey, triple bogey, bogey, birdie.
Mahan completed at 77, McDowell at 79.
“It is simply so arduous, so difficult,” Lowry stated. “There’s plenty of catastrophe holes.”
Jones, at the least for at some point, averted all of them.
“It was an excellent day,” he stated.
DIVOTS: Amongst notables, Zach Johnson was in a bunch 6 pictures again after taking pictures 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.