PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – There have been about 7,200 rounds played at the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National 17 years ago.
Only two of those were better than the one turned in Friday by Chris Kirk.
Kirk shot an 8-under 62 in the second round, moving him to 9 under for the week and one shot behind Justin Suh (64) at the tournament’s midway point. Kirk had an eagle and six birdies, hitting 16 greens and taking advantage of no wind blowing in the morning — very rare for PGA National.
“Usually we’re playing for 15-, 20-plus yards of hurt going into the wind shots, and 15, 20 yards of help on downwind shots,” Kirk said. “It’s really difficult to get those just right when it’s really windy. But today there was hardly a breath most of the round, and so it became a little bit more target practice.”
Suh had four consecutive birdies on holes 8 through 11, rolling in putts from 5, 15, 25 and 30 feet in that span, to post a 36-hole total of 10-under 130.
“I think we’ve been trending in the right direction,” Suh said. “Every week I’ve been improving and just certain spots, and I think it’s gratifying just to see the progressive work pay off.”
There was no shortage of players taking dead aim. Ryan Gerard (63) and Ben Taylor (65) were tied for third at 8 under. Ben Martin (64), Eric Cole (66) and Brice Garnett (64) were all another shot back.
“Anything around here around that par or below, you can’t be too upset about,” said U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, who celebrated his 47th birthday with a 67 to get to 5 under for the week.
Gerard was a Monday qualifier. This is only his second PGA Tour event as a pro, and his first made cut.
“I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else," Gerard said. “This is my dream ever since I was a little kid, just playing PGA Tour events. I’m still on the road there, not officially made it yet, but I just really enjoy playing golf. I love everything about it. I love the competition. I love challenging myself. I love playing against the best players and seeing how I stack up."
Shane Lowry shot his second consecutive 68, highlighted by a 57-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th — his ball staying on-line even after rolling over another player's coin on its way to the hole.
Two players on the cut line couldn’t finish the final hole of their second rounds Friday evening because of darkness. Brett Drewitt had 112 yards remaining after two shots on the par-5 18th; Pierceson Coody did not play the par-4 9th.
Both returned at 6:50 a.m. Saturday, played for seven minutes, made par and made the cut. They started their third round together in a twosome 33 minutes later at 7:30; the other 78 players who made the cut went off Saturday in threesomes.
DIVOTS: The only sub-62 rounds at the Honda since it moved to PGA National came from Brian Harman (2012) and Matt Jones (2021). Tiger Woods had a final-round 62 in 2012 at PGA National and finished tied for second, two shots back of Rory McIlroy. ... Kyle Stanley hit his tee shot on the par-3 15th into the water, took a drop, then holed out with a wedge from 95 yards for par. ... Jhonattan Vegas tapped in for birdie on 18 and made the cut on the number at 1-over 141. ... Defending champion Sepp Straka had two birdies and 16 pars Friday. He’s 3 under. ... Joseph Bramlett and Billy Horschel both shot 65 on Thursday to be in a tie for the lead; both shot 73 on Friday.
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