BETHESDA, Md. – A man who has never played the weekend at a U.S. Open is setting the pace midway through the morning half of the draw.
Ryan Palmer, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open in 1998 and 2007, has yet to make a bogey in the first round. The Texan started on the front, as have the majority of the players at the top of the leaderboard, and has completed 11 holes in 3 under.
Giving chase are several major champions, including Graeme McDowell, who is defending the title he won a year ago at Pebble Beach. He’s tied at 1 under along with 2009 British Open champ Stewart Cink, 2009 PGA champ Y.E. Yang and Davis Love III, who won the 1997 PGA.
Also at 1 under are Chez Reavie, who is playing his 18th hole; J.J. Henry and Jason Day. The group at even par includes three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Louis Oosthuizen, who will defend his British Open title next month at Royal St. George’s.
Phil Mickelson, who has finished second at the U.S. Open five times, is among the afternoon starters. The birthday boy – Mickelson turns 41 today -- tees off No. 10 in the day’s Featured Group with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
BETHESDA, Md. -- Ryan Palmer just made a 4-footer at the difficult par-3 10th hole to take sole possession of the lead at 3 under.
The Texan is the only player in the current top-10 on the leaderboard who hasn't made a bogey on Thursday. He birdied the first hole and added another at No. 8.
Palmer has a one-stroke lead over Chez Reavie, who has two holes remaining; Johan Edfors, who is through 11, and Jeff Overton, who is playing with the leader.
Palmer has yet to make a cut in two previous starts at the U.S. Open in 1998 and 2007.
Just how difficult has the scoring been on a hot, windy day outside Dallas? Well, the overnight leaders have gone backwards and one of them, Ryan Palmer, still leads.
Palmer is 1 over through nine holes and leads by one over Sergio Garcia, who made the turn in 2 over to fall to 6 under.
After that there’s a little separation with three players, including Jeff Overton, at 4 under.
The lowest round in the clubhouse so far? A 67 by Arjun Atwal, who is also 3 under for the tournament.
In all, just 19 players are under par for the week at the moment.
Take away the second round and Jeff Overton would be 9 under. Of course you can’t do that, but Overton has nonetheless found a way to recover from his 74.
Through his first nine holes on Saturday, Overton is 3 under and as a result has moved back into contention just two shots back.
The two players Overton is chasing? Ryan Palmer and Sergio Garcia, both of whom are 1 over through six holes.
As for Jordan Spieth, the 17-year-old high school senior who began the day five shots back? He raced out of the tee box with birdies on each of his first two holes, but he gave those back on the fourth hole with a double bogey. Spieth then made another bogey on the par-4 ninth to make the turn in 1 over on the day.
The good news for Spieth, of course, is that the leaders have gone backwards as well and he’s still just five shots back.
As good as Jeff Overton was in his opening round, especially on the back nine at TPC Four Seasons, he’s been equally bad here in the second round.
Through his first 10 holes, Overton is 3 over with four bogeys and just one birdies. Conversely, he had six birdies, including four on the back nine, and no bogeys in the opening round.
So what’s been the difference? Well, Overton can get wild and that’s hurting him today with just four of eight fairways hit and four of 10 greens in regulation. In the first round, it was the complete opposite with the Indiana product hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation.
It’s now wonder Overton trails by six at the moment.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- Jeff Overton hasn't been pleased with his putting this year. He ranks 56th in Strokes Gained-Putting, the PGA TOUR's new primary putting statistic. Last year, he would've ranked tied for 26th, so he’s taken a significant step back.
He had to be pleased on Thursday, though. In shooting a 6-under 64 to take the first-round lead of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Overton drained five putts of nine feet or longer and he was a respectable 17th in the field in Strokes Gained-Putting for the round.
"I hope this is the beginning of a good streak for me," Overton said. "I've been hitting it really well the last three or four weeks, just have not made my putts all year.
"It's a game of putting. If you can make your putts inside of 10 feet and hit it reasonably well, you're going to have a good chance of winning the golf tournament at the end of week."
Overton should have a good chance of winning this week. A year ago, he finished tied for second in this event, a final-round 71 leaving him two strokes off the winning score.
That was the fourth time on TOUR he has been the runner-up. At some point, he needs to break through, and the TPC Four Seasons Resort course might just be the one that suits his game. On Thursday, not only was his putter going, but so was his ball-striking – he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and 11 of 14 fairways.
"Definitely it's nice having confidence because of last year," Overton said.
He's hoping that confidence carries over for three more days.
Jeff Overton came into this week with just one top-25 this season. Thursday, he shot a bogey-free 6-under 64 to take a one-shot lead in a tournament he tied for second at a year ago.
Something about TPC Four Seasons obviously clicks with Overton, who on Thursday hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation, which ranks fifth and first in the field, respectively.
Thursday’s round was also the lowest of the year for Overton, bettering his 65 in the second round of the Bob Hope Classic in January.
A year ago, Overton had a breakout season with a half-dozen top-10s, including three runner-up finishes. He also played on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Now his 64 leaves him in position to make another run at his first career win, something that escaped him last summer when Stuart Appleby shot a final-round 59 to win The Greenbrier Classic.
The cut line is currently at even par. which is bad news for Rickie Fowler, who is 1 over on the tournament.
The good news for Fowler is he has time to recover after playing his first six holes Friday in 3 over with a triple bogey on the par-4 fourth and a bogey on the par-4 fifth.
Other notables on the wrong side of the number include 2009 winner Jerry Kelly, who is 5 over for the week (and 2 under through nine holes Friday) and Justin Rose, who is also 5 over (and even par through eight holes).
Jeff Overton, a runner-up here a year ago, is also flirting with missing the cut. He’s 1 under through eight holes today and right on the number for the week.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The Honda Classic is resembling a U.S. Open when you look at the leaderboard.
Only seven players are under par more than halfway through the morning wave as winds in excess of 20-mph are making club selection a challenge at PGA National's Champion course.
Spencer Levin leads at 3-under through 17 holes. He’s one shot ahead of Matt Bettencourt, Alex Cejka and Jeff Overton.
The course is averaging more than 3 strokes over its par of 70 (73.3).
Among the big names struggling are former Honda champions Ernie Els (5 over through 12 holes) and Luke Donald (3 over through 12) and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (4 over through 12).
Els, who had hit a PGA TOUR-leading 83.3 percent of his greens entering Thursday, has hit just 6 of 12. -- Craig Dolch