Vegas Shoots 64, Leads Honda by 2

Jhonattan Vegas put up a low number early and it held up all day.

The 34-year-old Venezuelan posted a bogey-free, 6-under-par 64 and took a two-stroke lead over four players after the first round of the 47th Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“I was able to drive the ball really well today and also hit my irons incredibly well,” said Vegas, who has three victories on the PGA Tour, the last coming in the 2017 RBC Canadian Open. “I only missed three greens and of those I left two within 15 feet of the hole.

“Hitting those irons well to some of these tough pins makes the day a little bit easier. The wind wasn’t that hard, so you could be a little more aggressive than usual.”

Ernie Els, 49, of South Africa, who won this tournament in 2008 among his 19 PGA Tour titles, had three birdies on each nine in a 66 and is tied for second with two-time major champion Zach Johnson, 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Ben Silverman of Canada.

Fourth-ranked Brooks Koepka, a Palm Beach native, shot 67 and is in a mammoth tie for sixth with ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Billy Horschel, Bud Cauley, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Anirban Lahiri of India, Hank Lebioda, Adam Schenk, Roberto Castro, Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, Bronson Burgoon, Julian Etulain of Argentina and Kyoung-Hung Lee of South Korea.

Third-ranked Justin Thomas, the defending champion, opened with a 68 and is tied for 20th.

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