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Matt Jones ties PGA National course record with a 61 in Honda Classic

Matt Jones’ opening round at the Honda Classic was amazing. He was remarkably unimpressed.

Jones tied the course record Thursday on a typically windy day at PGA National with a bogey-free 9-under 61 to take a 3-shot lead. He matched the mark set by Brian Harman in the second round in 2012, and was a shot better than the final-round 62 that Tiger Woods posted that year.

“That’s an incredible round of golf,” said Lee Westwood, who opened with an even-par 70. “Could be the round of the year, 61 around here, when it’s flat calm, impressive. But when there’s a 15-, 20-mile-an-hour wind blowing, greens are fast, a lot of crosswinds, that’s an incredible round of golf.”

All told, there have been roughly 6,000 tournament rounds at the Honda since it moved to PGA National in 2007. None was better than the one Thursday from Jones, an Australian ranked No. 83 in the world.

He seemed most unfazed afterward.

“I play golf for a living,” Jones stated. “I mean, I should be able to shoot a good golf score occasionally. It doesn’t happen as much as I want. But yes, I’m very happy with it. I was very calm, I was very relaxed out there. I’m normally a bit more amped up and hyped up and I had a different goal this week, to be a little more calm than normally and walk slower.”

It worked wonders.

He’s not into charting superlatives. He doesn’t know how many course records he holds, or how many holes-in-one he’s made. He wasn’t even aware he had four consecutive birdies on the front nine Thursday until he saw his card on a giant leaderboard as his round was finishing.

“I was just managing the golf course and hitting good shots,” Jones said.

Russell Henley and Aaron Wise shot 64s, matching the best score at the Honda by anyone — Jones excluded — since Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox had 63s in 2014. Nobody in the field last year shot better than a 66. Jones had the four consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-5, had others on the par-4 11th and par-4 13th, then concluded with birdies on each of his final three holes and never dropped a shot despite the Honda’s usual windy conditions.

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