Miami: England’s Tom Lewis made the most of his sponsor’s exemption into the US PGA Tour Honda Classic on Thursday, firing a bogey-free four-under-par 66 to share the first-round lead with Harris English at wind-whipped PGA National.
“I’m enjoying this,” the 29-year-old Lewis said of the chilly, windy weather that proved the undoing of some more familiar names.
Lewis rolled in a nine-foot eagle putt at the par-five third and stuck his tee shot at the par-three seventh within two feet for birdie.
Another nine-foot birdie at the 18th capped a confidence-building round for a player whose fortunes have fluctuated since he made a splash as low amateur of the 2011 Open Championship.
He won the European Tour’s Portugal Masters in his third start after turning pro in 2011, but it would be seven years before he won his second European Tour title.
He earned limited PGA Tour status with victory in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship last year, but said he’s still struggling to put together a consistent schedule and has yet to make a cut in four US tour events this season.
“Things are always going to be up-and-down, no matter how good you’re playing,” Lewis said. “There’s always going to be something that’s going to hit you in the face and you’ve just got to find a way to get through it.
“I take a lot of belief from today, and hopefully great things will happen this week’’.
English, also playing on a sponsor’s exemption, eagled the third — where he rolled in a 27-foot put. His four birdies included a hole out from some 25 yards out at the 11th.
Two-time major champion Zach Johnson headed a group on three-under 67, and said the chilly winds suited him just fine.
“I grew up in it,” the Iowa native said of the cold, blustery weather. “I’m not going to say I’m licking my chops, that’s the furthest thing from my mind, but I don’t mind the grind.
“I’m a boring player in the sense that fairways and greens are a premium,” added Johhson, who had five birdies and two bogeys. “More than that, I think my trajectory control in winds like this kind of go hand in hand with spin control’’. Johnson was joined on 67 by England’s Lee Westwood and Americans Cameron Tringale, JT Poston and Brian Stuard. — AFP