Bramlett Shares First-Round Lead With Horschel at 65 in 51st Honda Classic

Joseph Bramlett made a strong start toward what would be his long-awaited first PGA Tour victory.

The 34-year-old Bramlett (pictured), from Saratoga and Stanford, carded a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 in round one to tie for the lead with Billy Horschel in the 51st Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Darkness halted play late in the day with 12 players still on the course, and they will return Friday morning to finish before the second round begins.

“I feel like things have just continued to go in the right direction,” said Bramlett, whose only professional victory came in the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Championship. “I had two weeks off and I worked really hard on my game. I’m really looking forward to this Florida swing. I feel like I’ve slowly been building all season. I got off to a decent start in the fall and then I carried that over pretty well on the West Coast and had a chance to win at Pebble.

“I definitely like it when the conditions are difficult and guys have to really earn it. I think that’s historically always been in my favor. So I really enjoy it. I was really looking forward to getting to this golf course this week. You get some squirrely lies in the rough. It’s got a lot of grain to it. I think with the overseeded Rye, the Bermuda coming under, it’s difficult to gauge. It doesn’t look very long, you get some lies that look pretty good, but it’s very difficult to predict.”

Bramlett, who tied for seventh at Pebble Beach and tied for ninth in Houston recently, started on the back nine and got into red figures immediately with a 14-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole, highlighted his round with a 43-foot birdie putt at No. 5 and tied for the lead when he finished his round with a 14-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole.

Horschel, who has seven PGA Tour victories after playing college golf at Florida, but has never won on the circuit in his home state, collected three birdies on each nine including three straight through No. 5 as he also finished on the back nine, making his lone bogey on the 15th hole.

“I just played really solid,” said Horschel, who is battling a sinus infection. “I didn’t do anything special. I hit some quality iron shots here and there. I wouldn’t say everything was sort of automatic and it was easy. I had to just sort of work my way into making some good swings here and there. But overall, it was a really solid day of golf.

“Listen, there’s no secret. I grind, I work hard. It’s no secret out here that I work really, really hard. But this week with just the way I’m feeling (with the sinus infection) and everything, my energy’s still not completely 100 percent every day.

“Everyone knows I would loved to win in Florida, and it would be great to make it happen this week.”

Justin Suh, from San Jose and USC, made five birdies and had his only bogey on the 12th hole in a 66 and is in tie for third with Pierceson Coody, 23, who made two birdies on each nine in his first round as a professional, and rookie Carson Young, who was four-under through 15 holes when darkness came.

Sungjae Im of South Korea, who won The Honda Classic in 2020, had three birdies in the front nine and made only one bogey in a 67 and in a big tie for sixth with Ben Taylor of England, who carded four straight birdies in the middle of his round; Tyler Duncan, who had two birdies on each nine; Adam Schenk, who made three straight birdies on each side; Adrian Meronk of Poland, who birdied three of the first eight holes and No. 18; Matt Wallace of England, who birdied the first three holes on the back nine and also the last two; Ryan Brehm, who birdied his last two holes while finishing on the front nine, and Eric Cole of Palm Springs, who chipped in from 43 feet for an eagle on the third hole.

Defending champion Sepp Straka of Austria is tied for 27th at 69; 2006 champ Luke Donald of England shot 71 and is in a tie for 62nd that includes 2011 winner Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, who had three birdies on the back nine; Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who won this event in 2005 and 2015, made only one birdie in 72 and is tied for 83rd; 2002 winner Matt Kuchar birdied only the first and last holes in a 75 and is tied for 128th, and Camilo Villegas, who won the 2010 Honda, is 143rd after an 80 that did include three birdies.

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