(Reuters) – Tom Lewis conjured up his inner Nick Faldo in earning a share of the first-round lead with a bogey-free four-under-par 66 in strong winds at the Honda Classic in windy Florida on Thursday.
Lewis joined American Harris English one stroke ahead of a large group on a day when Brooks Koepka made a triple-bogey and a double-bogey on his way to a 74 in the demanding conditions at water-lined PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
Lewis hails from the same Welwyn Garden City Golf Club in southern England as Faldo, who famously parred every hole in the final round to win the 1987 British Open at Muirfield.
“Bogey-free to me is big,” world number 57 Lewis told PGA Tour Radio. “It was cold this morning. I wouldn’t have expected to have not dropped a shot.
“I holed a good five-foot par putt… on the first (and) I was never really stressed out there. It was a nice start.”
Lewis won the secondary Korn Ferry Tour Championship last year and was promoted to the PGA Tour, but has made a poor start to his rookie season with four missed cuts in as many starts.
That perhaps explains why he was not counting any chickens after one good round.
“Today was my day but there’s a hell of a long way to go,” said the 29-year-old who is still learning not to be so hard on himself.
“I’m not a patient person. I beat myself up quite easy but I shouldn’t do that. I would have done better earlier in my career if I was more positive about myself.
“I’ve got to believe in myself that I can play out here.”
Co-leader Harris credited his score to a hot putter, something that was impossible to dispute considering he did not miss a putt from inside 15 feet.
World number three Koepka gave the leaders an eight-shot headstart.
“I didn’t feel like I played that bad,” said the four-times major champion. “I didn’t even hit bad shots and I was getting penalized, (including) two in the water on six.
“There’s a lot of water out here.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by ken ferris)