A first? Chicago area has three players in the Honda Classic field

Kevin Streelman (right) posted a 69 and Luke Donald (left) a 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL. – It’s been quite a while – at least five years — since the Chicago area had three card-carrying members of the PGA Tour and even longer since three played in the same PGA Tour stop.

That made Thursday’s first round of the Honda Classic a milestone event. Kevin Streelman, Luke Donald and Doug Ghim were all in the field at PGA National in the first stop on the four-tournament Florida Swing.

Streelman did the best, posting a 1-under-par 69 to move into a tie for 11th place behind co-leaders Tom Lewis and Harris English. Lewis and English both posted 4-under-par 66s. Donald had a 70 and is tied for 23rd and Ghim shot 74 and is tied for 103rd. The tournament runs through Sunday.

Wheaton’s Streelman came into the Honda off a spectacular showing in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California two weeks ago. He finished second as an individual and paired with football-playing partner Larry Fitzgerald to win the team title for the second time in three years.

Streelman is off to a solid start, standing No. 31 in the FedEx Cup standings with winnings already over $1 million for the 2019-20 season. In addition to challenging for the title at Pebble Beach he also had a tie for fourth in the Sanderson Farms Classic in Mississippi in September, in the second tournament of the PGA’s split season.

Donald, the former Northwestern star and Conway Farms member, is still working to regain the form that made him the world’s No. 1-ranked player. The Honda was a home game for him. Donald has maintained a residence in the Palm Beach area for several years. Though he had made three cuts in four starts in the PGA’s 2019-20 season his best finish has been a tie for 43rd at the RSM Classic in November.

Ghim, in his rookie season on golf’s premier circuit, got into the Honda field as the fifth alternate after a series of withdrawals by qualified players. Like Streelman, he arrived here off his best showing of the season – a tie for 20th at last week’s Puerto Rico Open.

Like Donald, Ghim has some work to do as the meat of the golf season closes in. He has made only three of 10 cuts since earning his PGA Tour card at last fall’s qualifying school.