Golf

Canada's Ben Silverman tied for 2nd at Honda Classic

Canada's Ben Silverman shot a 3-under 67 to sit tied for second after the first round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

31-year-old in good company with major winners Johnson, Els and Glover

Canada's Ben Silverman tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Honda Classic on Thursday. He is tied for second after one round. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Canada's Ben Silverman was tied for second after the first round of the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

The 31-year-old Silverman, who got into the tournament early this week as an alternate, was tied with Americans Zach Johnson and Lucas Glover and Ernie Els of South Africa.

"Me and my caddie have a great strategy for this week for kind of moving forward," Silverman told reporters.

"We've picked a style of swing that is comfortable for me, and we just move my targets for wind, and I think that helped hit more fairways, and when I missed greens, I was missing because we had a better club in hand and I had a slightly easier up-and-down where I could bump it into a low spot. I was never short-sided."

Silverman, who started on hole No. 10, bogeyed his first hole before reeling off four birdies on his front nine. He had two birdies and a bogey on his final nine holes.

A Florida Atlantic University product, Silverman has been living in the state for 13 years.

"It's really comfortable. It's like a second home. I've been here since '06, and I'm 31, so it's almost half my life I've been down here really, so I'm used to the weather, I'm used to the Bermuda (grass), the style of course, and I've played this course a ton of times — mini-tour events plus Q-school."

Silverman, who secured his PGA Tour card for the second year in a row at the final event of the Web.com Tour season last year, has made the cut in five of eight events on the top circuit this year. But his best finish is just a tie for 39th.

"I'm slowly getting more comfortable out here," he said. "I know the courses now, so I'm working more on my game in the practice area and less on practice rounds, and I think it's going to pay off moving forward."

Monday qualifier Drew Nesbitt of Shanty Bay, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., each shot 1-over 71, Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., had 72 and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., carded a 76.

Vegas made six birdies and no bogeys to tkae the early lead.

"Hit my irons the best I've hit them all year and I've always liked this golf course," Vegas said. "It's kind of one of those courses that I think suits me. You have to hit the ball well and you have to get around really well. And then I made a few putts."

Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia were in a large group at 67, and defending champion Justin Thomas shot 68 after an eventful day that saw him play the last eight holes without a 9-iron after it bent when he hit it against a tree.

"To feel like I gave quite a few back today and shoot 2-under par on this golf course, it's great," Thomas said.

Also at 68 was Sam Saunders, the grandson of golf legend Arnold Palmer. Saunders birdied all three holes in the famed "Bear Trap" stretch at PGA National, the run of holes 15 through 17 where a par 4 is sandwiched by a pair of par 3s that can be treacherous even without much wind.

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