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Six is a crowd for Tournament Players Championship first round

14 May, 2018, 04:54 | Author: Joan Malone
  • Dustin Johnson is confident he will remain on top of the world rankings after this week's Players Championship

Phil Mickelson struggled mightily in posting a 7-under 79. Dustin Johnson is part of a 6-way tie for the lead, the largest logjam in TPC Sawgrass history. Fowler shot a 74.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.

Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Spieth and Justin Rose all have a mathematical chance of dislodging him, a point Johnson shrugs off as much ado about nothing.

It's a phrase that likely won't make it into promotional materials for The Players Championship anytime soon. He shot 1-under 71.

"It was definitely a big deal to get there, and it's a big deal to stay there, I think", said Johnson, who has been the top-ranked golfer for 64 weeks.

Johnson shared the lead after the first round with 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Chesson Hadley, Alex Noren and Patrick Cantlay. 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.

That's been the story of the TPC Sawgrass over the years - a design that doesn't favor one particular style of play.

It involves a player holding up one or two fingers, depending on the length of the putt, to help determine.

Woods wasn't among them. He managed one more birdie on his closing nine to share the lead after the morning wave with Simpson and Noren.

"Toward the back nine, it started getting a little sparse", Woods said.

"I don't want to say it was a surprise".

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There was plenty of excitement elsewhere. And he putted like he was fed up with not seeing enough go in. He liked the results. However, with calm winds and flawless scoring conditions in the morning, Johnson opened the tournament on the back nine and rolled in five birdies to make the turn at 5-under 31. It was his best score ever on the Stadium Course, and only his fourth time in the 60s. "I feel like I played it the same way most of the times I played it, other than I fade the ball instead of draw it - but it still requires you to hit the same kind of shots off the tees".

"With the game where it is right now, there's a lot of really good players right at the top of the world rankings, so for me to stay up there I'm going to have to play really well".

"It's definitely helped. It gives me a more definitive spot to aim at", he said of the new method, which involves using the soles of one's feet to discern the break.

Also at 67 was Keith Mitchell, who only got into the tournament Wednesday when Paul Casey had to withdraw with an injury.

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. "I've certainly figured out which holes that I don't play well". Two weeks in a row for me, last week Quail Hollow was ideal for me, as well. Back on putting surfaces he knows, Woods made a number of key putts.

Mickelson said he ran out of energy, which he feared coming into the week.

Spieth hit into the water three times in his opening seven holes, leading to a pair of bogeys and double bogey.

Spain's Rahm is four under, while American three-time major victor Spieth struggled to a three-over 75. McIlroy topped his group but was tied for 55th overall. The bad news is that they're facing a two-touchdown deficit and sit four shots outside the top 25, with little if any chance of factoring into the final outcome.

He said: "I don't think I putted very well around here as a whole". "It looked like it played easy out there, but our group didn't feel like that with what we shot".

Last year's victor Kim Si-woo put himself firmly in contention after a five under 67 left him just one shot adrift of the leaders.

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