PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Zach Johnson made a quadruple-bogey 8 on his second hole and still managed a 67 in the Honda Classic on Thursday.
Tiger Woods had good birdie chances on his opening four holes and couldn’t break par.
Johnson made seven birdies after his soggy start - two straight shots into the water - and it took a few minutes for him to digest a wild round at PGA National. He looked as though he might have shot himself out of the tournament, but he ended the round two shots behind co-leaders William McGirt and Rory Sabbatini among the early starters.
“It was easy to put behind me because it was the second hole,” Johnson said.
Woods was playing for the first time in a month - and only his third tournament this year - and he didn’t show many signs of rounding into form. Coming off pedestrian finishes at Torrey Pines and Dubai, the world’s No. 1 player couldn’t make any putts until he was scrambling for par.
He had only three birdies in a round of 71 and likely will start the second round Friday outside the cut line.
“I hit it good starting out,” Woods said. “Hit it kind of scrappy in the middle and then hit it good at the end.”
The big blow came on No. 2 when he pulled his tee shot into thick rough, advanced the ball only about 25 yards, found a bunker and took double bogey.
British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy were among the late starters at a tournament that features seven of the top nine players in the world, making it the strongest regular PGA Tour event of the season.
McGirt is getting used to this position.
Just two weeks ago, he had a two-shot lead going into the final round at Riviera until he closed with a 73 and tied for sixth. In his next start, he’s right back at the top. McGirt had a tap-in eagle at No. 3 and kept bogeys off his card.
“About as well as I’ve played since I’ve been out here,” McGirt said. “Just stayed out of my own way.”
Sabbatini is a past winner at the Honda Classic.
Brendon de Jonge, Derek Ernst, Tommy Gainey and Brice Garnett were among those at 66, while Luke Donald joined Johnson in the group at 67.
Johnson had a day to remember.