Pierceson Coody is already a success on the Korn Ferry Tour — he’s won twice already and is destined for the PGA Tour.
He got a jump start this week with a sponsor’s exemption into the Honda Classic and he wasted no time making his presence known during Thursday’s first round. Coody found tough PGA National to his liking — he signed for a four-under par 66 and found himself just a shot short of the co-leaders — Billy Horschel and Joe Bramlett.
“It really just feels like another professional event,” Coody said afterward. “I’ve only played about 13 or 14 professional or I guess, whatever, 15 events. But other than the big grandstands it’s not that different. You’re just playing golf. You’re trying to put a good score together. No real nerves out there. Just happy to play well.”
The former University of Texas star had an impressive day, hitting 14 greens in regulation and gaining nearly three shots approaching the green. He was solid on the greens as well, holing more than 112 feet of putts. He was fifth in the field in strokes gained putting after day one.
“I hit my irons great,” Coody said. “I made some really nice putts. Had some really cool par saves. It kept my round going and let me get a few more on the back nine. As you all know, those last few as it gets windy on the Bear Trap and whatnot are a little dicey, so was happy to make some pars. Unfortunately, didn’t make a birdie on 18, but it’s still a really nice round.”
Pierceson’s twin brother Parker is also in the field. He Monday qualified but found the going tough, finishing with a four-over par 74.
Horschel, a former FedEx Cup champion, is one of the more recognizable names in the field. He played at the University of Florida but has never won a Tour event in his home state. “Just played really solid,” Horschel said. “Didn’t do anything special. Hit some quality iron shots here and there. I wouldn’t say everything was sort of automatic and it was easy. I had to just sort of work my way into making some good swings here and there. But overall, it was a really solid day of golf.”
For Bramlett, it was a bogey-free round on a tough golf course. He had to scramble a bit as he missed six of 14 fairways and hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation. “I definitely like when the conditions are difficult and guys have to really earn it,” said Bramlett, who has never won on the PGA Tour. “I think that’s historically always been in my favor.”
PGA Tour, LPGA Tour Players In Mixed Team Event:
The December event formerly known as the Shark Shootout will become a mixed team event in December.
Now called the Grant Thornton Invitational, select PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players will compete in a team event December 8-10 at Tiburon in Naples.
The teams will compete for a $4 million purse.
Look for potential changes coming to the Florida Swing. With the AP Invitational and The Players going back to back, the Honda Classic could be moved to a fall date and the Valspar Classic could eventually become a full-field, mixed team event played at a fall date.