Alex Noren bombarded TPC Sawgrass with birdies in round one of THE PLAYERS Championship, coasting to a bogey-free, 6-under-par 34-=32=66 to share the early lead alongside Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson. He had an MRI and said he was not sure if he would tee it up until he arrived at the course Thursday and said the wrist was feeling better but not 100 percent. Six players sharing the lead is the most at The Players since the event moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is another shot back, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy is at 1 under along with Zach Johnson.
Woods wasn't among them.
Martin Laird of Scotland also finished the opening day level, two shots ahead of compatriot Russell Knox. Rickie Fowler rounded out the threesome and shot 74. I do think, though, we're in for six months or so where we see the world No 1 position to-ing and fro-ing, and I'm looking at this period as a real opportunity'.
Or maybe they were just bored. Cantlay, Hadley and Spain's Sergio Garcia each reached 7 under in the afternoon before dropping shots. "I like being number one so I want to stay there". "I enjoy playing it, and I feel like I should play well here". He liked the results. His opening nine was only slightly less scorching than Johnson's with four birdies, three in a row to start. Johnson only gave himself a few reasonable chances the rest of the way, though he was more than happy with his 66.
It was just his fourth round in the 60s in 31 trips around the Stadium Course and his best score by two shots. So it definitely works.
"I feel like I've got a good game plan around here". I had done it a little bit, like messing around with it.
Garcia came up short and in the water at the famed 17th hole and barely made his double-bogey putt. He was irritated by a late bogey and failing to birdie the par-5 ninth, settling for a 67. But a birdie at the last left him in a contented frame of mind.
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"I've learned that you've got to be really smart", Simpson said about playing TPC Sawgrass. Two weeks in a row for me, last week Quail Hollow was flawless for me, as well. Back on putting surfaces he knows, Woods made a number of key putts. "If I was to win again, I feel like it would be dreaming, as that's too hard".
"Just not making enough putts", Johnson said after making 111 feet of putts. And it's more of let's just get it in the fairway, even if you have to lay way back, sometimes you have to hit it in the middle of the green.
Mickelson said he ran out of energy, which he feared coming into the week. He hit one more into the water on No. 16 for another bogey.
Among that quartet, Thomas shot 1-over 73 and Spieth struggled to a 3-over 75, while Rose, powered by an eagle on number 12, shot 4-under par, 68.
"It could have been better".
Defending champion Kim Si-woo, of South Korea, was among a group one stroke behind on a morning of low scoring, but not all of the big names thrived.