GAR­CIA, THOMP­SON SHARE LEAD

Business Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

PALM BEACH GAR­DENS, Florida—Ser­gio Gar­cia made an ea­gle, avoided an al­li­ga­tor and wound up in a share of the lead on Thurs­day in the Honda Clas­sic.

Gar­cia holed out with an 8-iron from 142 yards into the wind on the se­cond hole for an ea­gle, and he nar­rowly missed an ea­gle putt on the 18th hole at PGA Na­tional. The Spa­niard shot five-un­der 65 and shared the lead with Michael Thomp­son, the 2013 Honda Clas­sic win­ner, who also birdied the last hole.

They were one shot ahead of Rickie Fowler and Wil­liam McGirt.

The big­gest ex­cite­ment for Gar­cia was on the par- 4 sixth hole, where he made his lone bo­gey.

His tee shot found the wa­ter left of the fair­way, shal­low enough for him to roll up his pants and try to play it out to the fair­way. That part was easy. He looked over his shoul­der be­cause of an al­li­ga­tor on the is­land, mak­ing sure it wasn’t go­ing any­where soon.

“I was more wor­ried about the al­li­ga­tor that was on the other side of the is­land than get­ting out of the wa­ter,” Gar­cia said. “The ball, I could see prob­a­bly half of it, so I knew that I could get it out. Al­most made 4, which would have been a great 4. I’m not go­ing to lie, I was happy with a 5.”

For the early starters, it was a rude wel­come to the Florida swing— chilly and gusts that ap­proached 30 mph.

Phil Mick­el­son ex­tended his good play from a run­ner-up fin­ish at Peb­ble Beach and shot 69, among 10 play­ers who man­aged to break par in the morn­ing. The wind eased slightly and the warmth re­turned briefly in the af­ter­noon, and the crowd had a lot more to cheer.

That in­cluded the loud­est cheer of the day on the par-3 17th, where Alex Ce­jka made a hole-in- one.

Rory McIl­roy, how­ever, wasn’t in a happy place when he fin­ished. Stand­ing out­side the scor­ing area, he smacked his put­ter on the con­crete be­fore go­ing in­side to sign for a 72. It wasn’t an aw­ful score, but the fin­ish led to his angst.

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