Horschel, Bramlett lead Honda Classic with 1st-round 65s

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Billy Horschel tees off on the fourth hole in the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Billy Horschel has never won a PGA Tour event in his home state of Florida. His quest to change that is off to a fine start.

Horschel shot a 5-under 65 on Thursday, tying him with Joseph Bramlett for the first-round lead in the Honda Classic at PGA National. Bramlett had a bogey-free round; Horschel had six birdies and one bogey.

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“Just played really solid,” Horschel said. “Didn’t do anything special. Hit some quality iron shots here and there. I wouldn’t say everything was sort of automatic and it was easy. I had to just sort of work my way into making some good swings here and there. But overall, it was a really solid day of golf.”

Horschel’s pre-Honda preparations included a trip to the doctor, finally giving in and getting a prescription after trying to fight off a sinus infection for a few days. He might have felt tired, but it didn’t show.

The 65 was his best score in 33 rounds as a pro at PGA National. He’d shot 66 on two previous occasions.

“Listen, there’s no secret,” said Horschel, who played his college golf at Florida. “It’s not a secret. I grind. I work hard. It’s no secret out here that I work really, really hard out here. But this week with just the way I’m feeling and everything, energy’s still not completely 100 percent every day.”

Bramlett scrambled nicely when he had to. He missed six of 14 fairways and hit 13 of 18 greens.

“I definitely like when the conditions are difficult and guys have to really earn it,” said Bramlett, who has never won on the PGA Tour. “I think that’s historically always been in my favor.”

Pierceson Coody — a sponsor exemption playing his first PGA Tour event as a professional — finished the first round at 4 under, alongside Justin Suh. Coody has two wins in 15 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour since turning pro in June.

“It really just feels like another professional event,” the grandson of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody said. “I’ve only played (15) professional events. But other than the big grandstands it’s not that different. You’re just playing golf, you’re trying to put a good score together. No real nerves out there. Just happy to play well.”

Suh missed a 10-foot birdie putt on his last hole — No. 9 — that would have tied him for the lead.

DIVOTS: Play was suspended for darkness just past 6 p.m., and four groups were unable to finish. Carson Young was at 4 under with three holes left to play. ... Past Honda champion Sungjae Im, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 18, birdied the last and shot 3-under 67. ... Past Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington played with the 2023 Ryder Cup captains, Luke Donald of Europe and Zach Johnson of the U.S. There was a bit of Cup talk during the round. “He’s a nice resource. He loves the Cup and represented it well,” Johnson said of Harrington. Johnson shot 68, Donald 71 and Harrington 72. ... Defending champion Sepp Straka opened with a 1-under 69. ... Monday qualifier Parker Coody, Pierceson’s twin brother, shot 74.


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