PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP: Co-leaders though 18

Solenn Plantier
Mai 13, 2017

Thursday marked the first PLAYERS tournament round since a large-scale renovation that included big changes to the 12th hole, new greens and new hazards-in addition to improved spectator areas and a completely reimagined entrance to the course.

Dustin Johnson, who has three wins and a runner-up in his last four starts, took 31 putts and shot a 1-under 71.

McGirt had three birdies on the front nine and eagled both of the par-fives on the back nine to offset two bogeys.

The Canadian rookie shook his head and laughed. William McGirt made a pair of eagles on the back nine and shot a 5-under 67 to take the early lead in The Players Championship. The course made Fowler, Day, and Henrik Stenson look like hacks at moments and then quickly reminded you of why they're the best in the world.

He managed a 73 with the eighth ace on the island-green 17th hole in Players Championship history and a tough par save on the 18th.

And just to balance affairs, two past champions from Australia, Jason Day and Adam Scott, had the lead and the tournament firmly in hand during their rounds, only to let it slip from their grasp with loose shots to fall back in the pack.

"I've been struggling with it a bit this week, sort of felt it for the first time on Sunday", he said on Friday.

At least he had company.

He showed up for the first time in 2014 at age 20 and not only did he share the 54-hole lead with Martin Kaymer, he played 58 holes before making his first bogey. Day, however, made three bogeys over his last four holes and had to settle for a two-under score. 6, 8 and 9 after his tee shots found the rough.

Alex Noren, of Sweden, Spain's Jon Rahm, J.B. Holmes and Chez Reavie shot four-under 68s and are one stroke back at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Even with a mild wind in the afternoon, just over one-third of the field broke par.

Fast starts and bad finishes were the norm, and not just for Scott. Moreover, having won here just two years ago, some are considering Fowler one of the favorites this weekend. From the middle of the fairway, Fowler blocked it so badly to the right that it hit a cart path and went deep into the pines.

In addition to the ace, there were 24 birdies, 88 pars, 18 bogeys, 11 doubles and two triples on Thursday.

Garcia's round was different.

Sergio Garcia thought the loudest cheer he might hear all day would be at the first tee when he was introduced as the Masters champion.

"The feeling was great", Garcia said. "I wasn't quite in the tournament because of everything that's been going on".

"Yeah, the back's been a little bit on and off".

Johnson still has only two rounds in the 60s out of 27 attempts at the Stadium Course. I made a lot of really good swings out there, hitting 11 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens.

"It was a solid 52-degree (wedge) for me", said Garcia who played the final three holes in 3 under to shoot 1-over 73.

"I'm going for an MRI scan on Monday just to make sure it's not serious, and then I'll see what we do from there". "I think this, if you're kind of a one-dimensional player and you just hit draws or fades there's enough variety out here that it can be tricky".

McGirt is not exactly a fan of the course, finishing no better than 43rd in four previous starts and of the opinion that luck plays too big a factor.

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