(Reuters) – Ryan Palmer, lifted by good news both on and off the course, fired a five-under-par 65 on Friday to share the midway lead of the Honda Classic with rookie Wesley Bryan at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Palmer, who missed the cut in his first four events this year before tying for 49th last week in Los Angeles, had seven birdies and a pair of bogeys to finish on nine-under 131 along with Bryan (67), one better than fellow-American Rickie Fowler.
Most importantly for the 40-year-old Palmer, his wife Jennifer is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with breast cancer last July.
“She’s five radiations away from being done with all that,” Palmer, who took four months off last year to be with his wife and their two kids, told Golf Digest. “Things are clear and she’s doing awesome.”
Three-time PGA Tour winner Palmer is looking for his first tour victory in seven years.
“It’s nice to finally get some good golf, some good results. I put the work in and finally seeing some putts go in the hole,” the Texan told Golf Channel.
Fowler shot his second successive 66 for 132, one shot better than Anirban Lahiri of India (68). Another stroke back at six-under were Canadian Graham DeLaet and C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who both shot 68s.
Wesley, playing his 14th PGA Tour event, birdied the last to tie Palmer for the lead.
The 26-year-old Wesley gained notoriety as a trick shot act with his brother George on YouTube, garnering millions of views in showing off his ability to hit balls with his driver out of the air.
Wesley graduated to the PGA Tour by winning three times last year on the Web.com tour after qualifying for that tour at Q-School at PGA National. He hit something of a trick shot on Friday to stay on track.
After an errant tee ball at the par-four eighth put him wide right of the fairway on pine needles well behind a stand of trees, Wesley rocketed a rescue shot cleanly through a narrow gap and onto the green where he routinely two-putted for par.
“Made some really good par saves in the middle of it,” said Wesley, who needed just 27 putts.
Seventy players made the cut, which was set at even-par 140.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)