Palm Beach Gardens, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jim Herman fired a 5-under 65 during a windy first round on Thursday and he holds a 1-shot lead at the Honda Classic.
Herman has one career victory on the Nationwide Tour, now the Web.com Tour, at the 2010 Moonah Classic in Australia. He earned his 2015 tour card through last year's Web.com Finals Series and has made the cut in six of his first 10 events this season.
"The wind is very challenging," Herman said. "When you get it down wind you have to take advantage of it. The par-5s are very doable. I was able to get home on 18 ... When you do get down wind you have to take advantage of it."
The 37-year-old Herman holds a 1-shot lead heading into Friday's second round over Brendan Steele, who carded a 4-under 66 on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa.
Patrick Reed and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington both finished day one at 3-under 67 along with Martin Flores, and the trio is tied for third.
European Ryder Cup teammates Martin Kaymer and Jamie Donaldson are three shots back of the lead and tied for sixth at 2-under 68 along with Daniel Berger, Scott Piercy, Rory Sabbatini, Sung Joon Park and David Lingmerth.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, making his season debut on the PGA Tour, struggled with the windy conditions at times on his way to a 3-over 73. He is tied for 79th alongside defending champion Russell Henley and 21 others.
Herman, who was in the middle of playing in Monday's qualifier when he was told he was in the tournament due to Scott Verplank withdrawing, started Thursday's round with a trio of pars before rolling in a 9-foot birdie effort on No. 4.
Following three more pars from five, Herman stuck his approach shot on the par-4 eighth to within two feet and he kicked that in for his second gain, getting him to 2-under.
Herman made the turn with a par on nine and he started the back nine off well with an 8-foot birdie conversion on 10. Herman went on cruise control for a while with five straight pars from 11 before finishing up strong.
Birdies on two of his final three holes on 16 and 18 vaulted Herman into the clubhouse lead. Herman converted a putt from 35 feet on 16 and later two- putted for birdie at the par-5 last.
Herman was apart of the morning groups, but his 5-under 65 ended up holding strong at the end of the day.
"Any time I got into trouble I just wanted to get out of trouble," said Herman. "Didn't want to make a bad hole into something really bad ... Putter was working really well. If you putt well you're always going to do pretty well."
Steele started his round with three pars from 10 before trading a birdie on 13 with a bogey on 14. Following three more pars from 15, Steele made the turn in style with birdies on 18 and one.
Steele continued to play well on the front nine, his back. After making another birdie on three, Steele exchanged a bogey on five for a birdie on six. He finished with pars on seven and nine to go along with a gain on eight to grab sole possession of second place.
McIlroy got off to a very rocky start in his round as he made a mess of No. 1 en route to a double-bogey. The top player in the world got one of those back with a birdie on three, but he made bogey and double-bogey on four and five, dropping him all the way back to 4-over through five.
A birdie on eight stopped the bleeding a bit for McIlroy, but he later tripped to two more bogeys on 11 and 14. McIlroy salvaged his round at the end as he made gains on 17 and 18 as the wind began to die down a bit.
"It was tough. When nothing is going your way you don't really have anything to feed off, you don't see many good shots, we're all struggling. It was a grind out there," said McIlroy. "We'll all go home, put our feet up tonight and get ready for tomorrow."
NOTES: Herman and Berger were the only two players to shoot bogey-free rounds on Thursday ... Only 19 players shot rounds under par on day one ... This is the first time Herman has held the first-round lead ... Louis Oosthuizen withdrew prior to the start of the event and he was replaced by Mark Hubbard, who was disqualified at the end of his round because he failed to register ... Mike Weir withdrew during his round due to tenderness and tightness in his right arm ... Chris Stroud also withdrew following his first round of 80.