PALM BEACH GARDENS -- Russell Knox woke up to almost perfect conditions for his Friday morning round at the Honda Classic.
The wind was not blowing hard, the fairways were soft and the greens were receptive to those willing to be aggressive. It was an excellent opportunity for the Scot to go low, and he tied for the lowest round with a 7-under-par 63 in the second round at PGA National Resort & Spa.
“I just got through the disaster holes and took advantage of the so-called easier holes,” Knox said. “I drove it well, and I putted it great, too.
“It was one of my better putting rounds since I’ve been out here.”
He began the day with a par on the 10th hole, but he converted on three consecutive birdie putts inside 10 feet to gather the momentum. A 20-foot birdie on No. 18 sent him out in 31 and three more birdies coming in got him into a tie for fourth at 7-under, four strokes back of the lead.
Knox was matched by John Senden, who also carded a 63 in the morning wave. Senden was also bogey-free with seven birdies, but he sits two shots back at 5-under overall after shooting a 72 in the first round.
TAMING THE TRAP
Daniel Summerhays became the first player this week to go 3-under or better on the Bear Trap, Nos. 15-17, with three birdies Friday on that stretch.
It was part of a remarkable streak of six consecutive birdies to go from 1-over after a bogey on the 10th to 5-under as he headed to his final nine holes. The early momentum from the birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 helped him gain the confidence heading into the dreaded Bear Trap.
“Those are two wedge holes you really want to take advantage of before getting into 14, 15, 16 [and] 17,” Summerhays said. “You need to take advantage of the holes that are a little less challenging.”
He said the greens were ideal for the morning tee times, and he took full advantage on the Bear Trap. He holed a 36-foot putt to birdie No. 15 and followed that up with a nearly 14-footer on 16 and a 21-footer on the 17th. He gained 2.63 strokes over the field Friday with his putting on those three holes and only .035 shots on the other 15 holes.
Sergio Garcia stood on the 17th tee Friday at 2-over, two strokes off the projected cut line.
He threw caution to the wind and attacked the flag, which was placed a mere four paces from the right edge of the green. Garcia’s shot with a 7-iron landed next to the flag and rolled to just short of eight feet from the pin. The Spaniard made the putt and went to the par-5 18th in need of another birdie.
Garcia hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker on 18, and after laying up to about 85 yards, blasted a lob wedge to 18 inches from the pin. He tapped the ball in and completed his comeback to play two more rounds this weekend.
“I haven’t been able to feel too comfortable,” Garcia said. “I’ve got to be happy with the finish and hoping for a busy weekend.”
It was a good day for South Florida natives at PGA National.
Miami native Erik Compton, 34, a two-time heart transplant recepient, shot a 2-under 68 to enter the weekend in a tie for 39th. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens with five birdies and three bogeys on the card.
Coral Springs native Nicholas Thompson, 31, was even for the day with three birdies and three bogeys. Thompson is also tied for 39th heading into the final two rounds after shooting a 68 in Thursday’s opening round.