GARCIA, THOMPSON SHARE LEAD
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.