The Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches - Round One
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PGA National played easy for how PGA National normally plays on Thursday in Round 1 of the Cognizant Classic. Some of that is due to the fact that the par-4 10th hole has been changed to a par 5, but also because the fairways at this difficult track have been widened. 

And even though scoring was lower than most are accustomed to, players still have to beat everybody in the field they're teeing it up against. The only players who did that over 18 holes were Chad Ramey and S.H. Kim, both of whom shot 64s and are out in front of a big pack at 6 under after the first round.

Let's take a closer look at their rounds, who's chasing and what to expect over the next few days of the Cognizant Classic.

The leaders

T1. Chad Ramey, S.H. Kim (-7)

Ramey held the outright lead for most of the day until Kim tied him with a birdie at his last hole of the day, the par-5 18th. Ramey doesn't have a top-10 anywhere in the world since he won the Corales Puntacana Championship in 2022. Throw in 25 missed cuts since that victory, and his Round 1 lead is a bit of a shocker. However, it would kind of fit nicely with what's happened on the PGA Tour so far this year. Almost every winner has been triple-digit odds when the week started. Ramey's number going into this week? Right at 300-1.

Other contenders

T3. Andrew Novak, Ryan Moore, Austin Eckroat, Cameron Young, Chesson Hadley (-6)

T8. C.T. Pan, Billy Horschel, Sam Ryder, Bud Cauley, Chandler Phillips, Erik van Rooyen, Kevin Yu (-5)

Young is the fascinating name in this group. He made 10 threes on Thursday in the first round and didn't even drive it that well. He's had a weird year. Mediocre showings at The Sentry and Pebble, a third place in Dubai and then top-20 at Phoenix and Riviera. He's my not-that-longshot pick to win the Masters, and it would be nice if he found some form right now. Still, be wary of the over three strokes gained with the putter on Thursday. That could go the other way on Friday.

Rory lurks

What Rory McIlroy is doing right now must be frustrating. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and led everyone in strokes gained off the tee. He's hitting the driver unbelievably (even for him) but struggling on approach play. He lost a stroke to the field Thursday in approach play, didn't putt particularly well and still shot a 4-under 67, which puts him within three of the lead and leaves him as the favorite.

"Some good, some not so good," he said of his round. "Really good off the tee. That's been a really good thing. I led strokes gained off the tee at Riviera a couple weeks ago, drove it really well again today.

"But a little loose with the irons. Didn't really hole much going out, but I holed a couple on the back nine. Overall, it's a solid start. 67 around here is always a decent score. It was so benign today. You're not going to get this course much easier. Probably could have been a couple of shots better, but overall still a decent start."

If he cleans up his iron play at all, he's going to be a big problem.

Jake Knapp, future star?

Knapp followed his victory in Mexico last week with a 3-under 68 on Thursday while playing with the No. 2-ranked McIlroy. Rory got him in driving distance (two holes) by 8 yards (327 yards to 319 yards) but said he enjoyed the 29-year-old's game.

"He could definitely be a star," said McIlroy. "It looks like he's got the full package. He's obviously got the speed. He can control that speed pretty well. He hit some beautiful shots out there today. Looks like his short game is pretty good. He's got charisma and like we had a good chat out there for a lot of the round. He's in good shape, and he -- if he keeps playing the way he is, he's the full package. He could be a superstar out here for sure."

2024 Cognizant Classic updated odds, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

  • Rory McIlroy: 13/2
  • Cameron Young: 15/2
  • S.H. Kim: 16-1
  • Beyong Hun An: 20-1
  • Chesson Hadley: 22-1
  • Andrew Novak: 22-1
  • Min Woo Lee: 22-1

This is an interesting board. I like McIlroy but probably not at that number. To be honest, I don't love anyone here. I'd rather go further down the board and look at Daniel Berger, who is 45-1 after shooting 68 and finishing nearly last in putting. He has a pair of top-fives in his last two starts -- granted, 2020 and 2022 before his most recent injury -- and at 45-1, he's a bit of a steal.