Gary Woodland missed the cut in his first two starts at The Players Championship, recording rounds of 75-71 in 2011 and 77-73 in 2012. He’s off to a better start this year, opening with a 5-under 67.
Geoff Ogilvy matched the back-nine record at The Players Championship with a 6-under 30. After opening his round at 4-over through five holes, he finished the day with a 3-under 69. In 13 starts at The Players, it marks his first opening-round in the 60s and just the fourth sub-70 score in 34 rounds.
In 11 appearances at The Players, Thursday’s 5-under 67 for Justin Rose marked his first sub-70 opening round. A T22 in 2009 marks his best finish out of five made cuts at the event.
Ernie Els had an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole, holing out a 53 degree wedge from 105 yards. His 68 Thursday ties his best opening-round score in 21 starts at The Players Championship (1997, 2004).
Making his 20th career start at The Players, 1998 champion Justin Leonard posted an opening round in the 60s for just the second time (65 in 1996, 68 in 2014). He started his day with an eagle-2 from 147 yards on No. 1.
Bubba Watson, currently second in the FedExCup standings, turned in an opening-round 3-under 69 in his first start since winning the Masters. Watson is seeking to become the eight player with a victory at both The Players and the Masters Tournament. The others are Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.
Matt Kuchar’s 1-under 71 included a double bogey on the par-4 18th hole. He is now 7-over in his last five rounds on that hole.
Phil Mickelson opened with a 3-over 75, marking his highest opening score at the event since an 83 in 2000. It equals his fourth-highest opening round in 21 starts here (83-2000, 78-1995, 77-1997). Since capturing The Players in 2007, Mickelson has not posted a top-10 finish at TPC Sawgrass.
FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker posted an opening-round 3-over 75 in his fifth start at THE PLAYERS (2010-T26, 2011-MC, 2012-T35, 2013-T15).
Adam Scott opened his 13th Players Championship with a 5-over 77, equaling his highest opening-round score of the event (set in his first start in 2002). Scott has won The Players (2004), a World Golf Championships event (Bridgestone Invitational), a major championship and the Tour Championship; only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can also make that claim.
Eight players who have won The Players are participating this week. Here’s a look at their first-round results:
- Player, year won, Round 1 score
- Sergio Garcia, 2008, 67
- Justin Leonard, 1998, 68
- Tim Clark, 2010, 71
- Matt Kuchar, 2012, 71
- Henrik Stenson, 2009, 71
- K.J. Choi, 2011, 74
- Phil Mickelson, 2007, 75
- Adam Scott, 2004, 77
Rookies at The Players
Chesson Hadley, the lone PGA TOUR rookie in the field, posted a 1-over 73 Thursday.
Best finishes by a PGA Tour rookie at The Players: David Lingmerth (T2 in 2013), Fulton Allem (T3 in 1988), Camilo Villegas (T3 in 2006) and Jeff Quinney (T6 in 2007).
First-timer leaderboard and notes
- Jordan Spieth, 67
- Joost Luiten, 68
- Stephen Gallacher, 70
- Hideki Matsuyama, 70
- Morgan Hoffmann, 71
- Steven Bowditch, 72
- Russell Knox, 72
- Chesson Hadley, 73
- Justin Hicks, 73
- John Peterson, 73
- Jamie Donaldson, 74
- Patrick Reed, 74
- Michael Putnam, 75
- Shawn Stefani, 75
- D.H. Lee, 78
Other than Jack Nicklaus, who won The Players in its inaugural year in 1974, only Hal Sutton (1983) and Craig Perks (2002) have won the event in their first appearance.
Since moving to The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in 1982, 18 of the 32 winners played the week before with the other 14 (most recently Tiger Woods in 2013, Matt Kuchar in 2012, K.J. Choi in 2011 and Tim Clark in 2010) taking the week off prior to the event.