Ryan Palmer, whose wife Jennifer is battling cancer, says playing on the PGA Tour these days gives him some piece of mind.
The 40-year-old Palmer, who has won three times on the circuit but not since the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii, shot 5-under-par 65 and was tied for the lead with rookie Wesley Bryan midway through the Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“When you get inside the ropes, everything kind of goes away,” said Palmer, who missed the cut in his first four tournaments this year before tying for 49th last week in the Genesis Open at Riviera. “You enjoy those four or five hours. It helps make golf less aggravating at times. You realize it’s just a game we’re playing.
” … You have to drive the ball well (at PGA National) and you have to hit your irons well. It’s been my strength the last few years. You don’t have to shoot 7-under-par each day. If you break par on this golf course, you’re going to be in contention on the weekend.
” … It’s nice to finally get some good results.”
Jennifer Palmer was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in July, so Ryan stayed home for the final 3½ months of last year to care for their children–Mason, 10, and Madelyn, 7–while Jennifer underwent treatment.
Jennifer underwent surgery about a month after the diagnosis and received chemotherapy, but Palmer said after his round that she probably was picking up the kids after school and taking them out for ice cream at that exact moment.
“Things are clear and she’s doing awesome,” Palmer said.
Bryan, who finished fourth last week at Riviera, sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole to complete a 67 and shared the lead with Palmer at 9-under 131.
“I got off to a hot start with three quick birdies,” said Bryan, who won three times on the Web.com Tour last season to earn his promotion to the PGA Tour. “I kind of cooled off a little, but made some good par saves to keep the round going.
“I’m glad to be in this position for the weekend because that’s what you play for out here. These guys are good out here, so I have to keep making birdies.”
Rickie Fowler carded a second straight 66 and was one stroke back in third, followed another shot behind by Anirban Lahiri of India, who had a 68, while C.T. Pan of Taiwan and Graham DeLaet of Canada were three down in a tie for fifth after recording 68s.
Morgan Hoffman and Tyrell Hatton of England recorded 67s and were four shots back in a tie for seventh with Scott Stallings, who had a 68, and Martin Kaymer of Germany, who came in at 70.
Defending champion Adam Scott of Australia and Zach Johnson posted 69s and were six strokes behind in a tie for 17th, while Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside followed a 73 with a 65 and was another shot back in a the for 28th.