Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Davis Love III aced the fifth hole under 64 and the first-round lead of The Honda Classic.
The American Ryder Cup captain matched the course record at the PGA National Champion Course and is two strokes in front.
"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," said Love. "I had a lot of even-par the first day or one-over, and just get behind the eight-ball. So I'm just glad to be off to a good start."
The first round was suspended for darkness with two players still on the course. They will return at 7:30 a.m. (ET) to finish off the round.
Rory McIlroy, who lost the final of last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, can once again get to No. 1 in the world rankings with a win this week. He opened with a four-under 66 and is part of a large group tied for second place.
"Obviously with all of the talk of No. 1, it would be great to get to that position at some point," said McIlroy, the reigning U.S. Open champion. "I'm working towards that and I feel like I'm playing good enough to challenge for it at least."
A former world No. 1 didn't get off to a great start Thursday.
Tiger Woods, who is playing this event for the first time since he was an amateur in 1993, needed 34 putts in round one, although he burned the edge of the cup several times, and shot a one-over-par 71.
"I didn't get a whole lot out of my round," Woods said. "I hit the ball a lot better than I scored and I certainly putted a lot better than I scored. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better."
Woods will be chasing the man whose team he hopes to be on in a little over six months.
Love plodded along with four pars to start his round, then stepped on the par- three fifth tee. He hit a five-iron just four feet right of the flag, then watched as the ball disappeared into the hole for an ace.
"I was parring along there, had some birdie putts, and had not made a birdie yet," said Love. "Then all of a sudden, I was two-under. I obviously hit a good shot, but you're lucky when they go in. But that was a good boost."
Love parred the next hole, but went on a great run before the turn. He hit another good five-iron, this time at the par-three seventh, and poured in the 15-foot birdie effort.
After a poor drive into the pine straw at eight, Love knocked an eight-iron to six feet and converted the birdie chance. He capped off his front side with a beautiful wedge that stopped five feet from the hole at nine.
At the par-four 10th, Love hit a poor four-iron and made bogey. He parred his next six, but finished strongly to grab the first-round lead.
Love rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at the par-three 17th and closed his round with an up-and-down birdie from a bunker at the par-five finishing hole.
"If I had not birdied the last two holes, it still would have been a good start," said Love. "It's fun to break, tie the course record, and it's fun to shoot low scores."
Even though Medinah and the Ryder Cup is six months away, questions loom if Love could captain and play on the same Ryder Cup team. Even the U.S. leader isn't sure.
"I switch modes," acknowledged Love. "Your goal shouldn't be just to play good today. Your goal should be to be the FedExCup Champion and to make the Ryder Cup team and to win all the majors, because drive, that makes you work hard every day, come out and play hard and be focused."
McIlroy isn't the only 2010 major winner in the field this week. In fact, all four major champions teed it up. PGA Champion Keegan Bradley got in with a three-under 67, Masters winner Charl Schwartzel shot a one-over 71 and British Open Champion Darren Clarke struggled to a three-over 73.
NOTES: Ian Poulter and Alex Cejka withdrew on Thursday...Miguel Angel Carballo got Poulter's spot in the field, and in the high-profile threesome with Woods and world No. 3 Lee Westwood, Carballo shot a nine-over 79...Love's 64 matched the course record originally established by Luke Donald in 2008 and was later matched eight times prior to Thursday...Hank Kuehne, who has battled injuries and hasn't played on the PGA Tour since June of 2007, managed a respectable, even-par 70 on Thursday...Defending champion Rory Sabbatini carded a one-under 69 in round one.