American Herman moves one ahead at Honda Classic

Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:41pm EST
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By Simon Evans

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (Reuters) - American journeyman Jim Herman was the unlikely first round leader at the Honda Classic after shooting a five-under-par 65 as world number one Rory McIlroy struggled at blustery PGA National on Thursday.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, looking to make a winning start to his build-up to the April 9-12 Masters, recovered from an erratic first 14 holes as he finished birdie-birdie for a three-over 73.

Herman, 37, has never won on the PGA Tour and was not even sure of entry into the tournament on Monday but he handled the tough conditions superbly as he stayed bogey-free while recording five birdies on the Champion Course.

That left him one stroke ahead of compatriot Brendan Steele who finished strongly with four birdies and a bogey on the front nine, after starting out on the 10th tee.

"I don't recall ever leading (on the tour)," said Herman. "It was a little unexpected to get to five under.

"I was trying to keep it around par, thinking if you could get a birdie here or there and sneak in at one or two under par, it would be great."

McIlroy, winner here in 2012, suffered a double-bogey on the first hole where he lost his ball off tee and though he pulled a shot back on the third, he bogeyed the fourth before making another double on the par-three fifth.

Birdies on the final two holes kept the Northern Irishman's score respectable, albeit eight strokes behind the leader.   Continued...

Jim Herman tees off the 10th hole during the second round of the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal GC - Blue Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports