Ramey shoots a bogey-free 64 at PGA National, grabs early lead at Cognizant Classic

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Chad Ramey’s first two trips to PGA National as a professional were largely forgettable. He might have a chance to change that this week.

Ramey shot a bogey-free round of 7-under 64 on Thursday in the opening round of the Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches, grabbing a one-stroke lead after the morning wave over Cameron Young, Ryan Moore, Chesson Hadley, Austin Eckroat and Andrew Novak. The event is the first on the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing this year.

Ramey’s past appearances in the event — then known as the Honda Classic — were quick and unremarkable. He missed the cut at PGA National by 10 shots in 2022, missed it by just one stroke last year and failed to shoot a round in the 60s either time. But conditions were perfect when he teed off early Thursday; a course known to often have whipping winds had barely a breeze for much of his round.

“I got a good break this morning with there not being any wind,” Ramey said. “I fully expect the rest of the week the wind to blow. I’ve never been here and it not blow. But to take advantage of the calm conditions is definitely a plus.”

Added Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 2-ranked player who shot a 4-under 67 in the morning wave: “You’re not going to get this course much easier.”

Ramey made a 27-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, starting a stretch where he had five birdies in his opening seven holes — including on the 479-yard, par-4 sixth, one of PGA National’s tougher holes. From there, he mostly just stayed out of trouble; only two of his 11 par putts were from outside of 4 feet.

“Hit it well, putted well, chipped in once,” said Ramey, whose last first-round lead came last year at The Players Championship. “Very solid through the whole bag.”

Hadley was also bogey-free, with six birdies on his card as he finished one shot back of Ramey. Moore holed out from 113 yards for eagle at the par-4 13th, highlighting his 65. Eckroat had five consecutive birdies in one stretch; he and Moore both had nine birdies and three bogeys on the day.

Hadley said the combination of minimal wind and receptive greens left him thinking “let’s go.”

“I was able to take advantage of the conditions today and shoot 6 under. It probably will continue to go a little bit lower, but it’ll show its teeth. It always does,” Hadley said. “Typically if you’re just hanging around on Sunday, you can put together something, and it can be a special weekend.”

Billy Horschel, C.T. Pan, Sam Ryder, Bud Cauley and Chandler Phillips were in a group at 5-under 66. McIlroy, defending champion Chris Kirk and FedExCup points leader Matthieu Pavon were among those who finished with 67s.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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