Simpson, Noren share lead in Florida, McDowell in touch

Lovemark later shot a 69 for a share of the halfway lead.

The keys to victory at the Honda Classic, where the winning score in relation to par is about nine-under, are either a strong short game or accurate ball striking. Fowler returns to The Honda Classic as the reigning champion, where he won by four strokes last season over 2018 Phoenix Open champion Gary Woodland. His ball landed in the water and McIlroy dropped into a tie for 56th at 2-over after taking a double bogey.

Harrington believes that Woods will win a 15th major championship.

The tale of the tape at PGA National reads just 7,140 yards for a par-70, but there's more to the story.

"It was a pretty tough day", McIlroy said.

So, who should you be targeting this week? "This was by far my best putting and chipping round of the season".

He hung tough to shoot 70 - four shots better than his playing partner, Patton Kizzire, a two-time victor this season and the current FedExCup leader - and afterward Woods said that it was a "very positive" day and that he was "very solid".

"I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game", Noren said.

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Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

Simpson turned in an equally impressive round during the afternoon wave. T4 at the Honda Classic a year ago in his first outing.

If you've been itching ... to bet your money on Tiger Woods, this is the first week that I won't call you insane for doing it.

The fourth-ranked Thomas is the highest-ranked player in the field this week.

Garcia is another interesting favorite to keep an eye on at PGA National this week.

Justin Thomas played with Woods in the Bahamas before only a few hundred people. He hit 9 of 14 fairways and only 11 of 18 greens, but scrambled well in finishing with only 25 putts on the round. The Spaniard is gunning to get his hands on the title for the first time, and can bank on a decent record with a brace of top-10 finishes, including 2nd in 2016, while he's yet to miss the cut.

"I'm so happy I'm not in pain anymore, but I'm fused, so it's a little bit different", he said. His decision to play in Florida this week marks his first attempt at back-to-back tournaments since 2015 as he vies to become a contender again in the wake of spinal fusion surgery last April.

Woods opened with two birdies in four holes and only one wild drive. It took a decent effort to hole out for a double bogey having tried to be overly cute with a bunker shot and being spooked by a gust of wind as he attempted what should have been a tap-in for a six. Instead, the 42-year-old made birdie at the 4th and was narrowly denied a move back under par on his penultimate hole.



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