Love fires 64, leads McIlroy by 2 shots at PGA Honda Classic

March 2, 2012 12:00 am
  • Davis Love III lines up a putt on the 10th green in the first round of the Honda Classic Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
    Davis Love III lines up a putt on the 10th green in the first round of the Honda Classic Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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Rory McIlroy opened with a 4-under 66 Thursday in the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., leaving him two shots behind Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and a small step closer toward establishing himself as the best player in golf.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, left PGA National feeling as if he played better than his score of 71.

Love made a hole in one and finished with two birdies to tie the course record at PGA National with a 64.

Love is 47 and still competitive, even though his mind is largely on assembling a team and a strategy to win back the Ryder Cup this fall at Medinah. He has been around long enough to realize that a good opening round, while pleasing, doesn't mean much.

"I've been hitting the ball real well, and a lot of tournaments last year I just didn't get off to a good start," Love said. "So I'm just glad to be off to a good start."

McIlroy, the 22-year-old U.S. Open champion from Northern Ireland who was the runner-up in the Match Play Championship, needs to win to reach No. 1 in the world. His 66 didn't seem to require much effort as he twice holed tricky par putts from about 5 feet on the first three holes.

"That's been a huge improvement, especially inside 6 feet," McIlroy said. "I definitely don't miss as many as I used to. I feel a lot more confident over those putts."

McIlroy was joined at 66 by a large group that included Justin Rose, Ryan Palmer and Harris English, the PGA Tour rookie who won on the Nationwide Tour last year as an amateur and has yet to miss a cut this year.

Woods only missed three greens, but failed to save par each time. His other bogey was a three-putt from 50 feet. He also failed to get up-and-down from left of the par-5 18th green, having to settle for par.

Woods was tied for 68th, seven shots behind, going into this morning's round.

First Published 2012-03-01 23:39:21

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