Tommy Fleetwood shrugs off lengthy weather delay to set Sawgrass clubhouse lead
Tommy Fleetwood shrugged off a lengthy weather delay to make a brilliant start to his bid to become the first Englishman to win The Players Championship.
Fleetwood carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey in an opening six-under-par 66 on a disjointed day at Sawgrass, where the start of play was delayed by an hour due to overnight rain and thunderstorms in the area.
When play did get under way, Fleetwood started on the back nine and picked up shots on the 11th and 16th, both par fives, before chipping in for another birdie on the 18th.
Fleetwood, who is without a win since 2019 and has slipped to 49th in the world rankings, also birdied the first and was facing a birdie putt from nine feet on the par-five second when play was suspended due to dangerous weather in the area at 11am local time.
It eventually resumed following a delay of four hours and 15 minutes but Fleetwood simply carried on where he left off, holing the birdie attempt and picking up another shot on the fifth.
A wayward tee shot on the next led to his only dropped shot of the day and the former Ryder Cup star bounced back with a birdie on the eighth to set the early clubhouse target.
American Harold Varner III had looked set to post a better score when he reached the treacherous 17th at seven under par, only to become the first player to find the water off the tee.
After almost spinning his ball off the green for a second time, Varner eventually recorded a triple-bogey six and also bogeyed the last to complete a disappointing 69.
“It’s a game. That’s why we play it,” Varner said. “No-one is going to die out there. I’ve always said that. I just was in between clubs and didn’t execute the shot, and that’s what you get a lot out here. Either you get it done or you don’t.”
Just a month away from his defence of the Masters, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama had earlier withdrawn from the GBP 15.2million event due to a lingering back injury.
Matsuyama had been scheduled to tee off at 0840 local time alongside Joaquin Niemann and Cameron Smith. He was replaced in the field by Patrick Rodgers.
Matsuyama led after the opening round of the Players in 2000 following a superb 63, only for the event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
LIVE SCORES: Follow all the latest leaderboards in our live golf scores centre.
‘Is this where I am going to die?’ Nicolas Colsaerts on kidney disorder battle
The Belgian is the focus of attention this week as he belatedly defends the Cazoo Open de France title he won three years ago.
On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s Europe team
Faldo was heavily criticised for his tactics in the closing singles.
Open champion Cameron Smith wins first LIV trophy in just second start
The world number two is the highest-ranked player to join the rebel series.
Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open
MacIntyre birdied the first extra hole at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Matt Fitzpatrick holds narrow lead ahead of final round at Italian Open
Rory McIlroy and Aaron Rai are one shot off the pace.
Rory McIlroy picks up the pace to claim lead ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick in Rome
McIlroy’s group looked unlikely to complete their second rounds after taking three hours to play nine holes.
Matt Fitzpatrick leads way at Italian Open despite ‘inconsistent’ display
The US Open champion held a one-shot lead over fellow Englishman Tom Lewis,
Rory McIlroy rues a late night until eagle gets him flying in Italian Open
The four-time major winner was only a shot behind leader Matt Fitzpatrick after the first round of the Rome event.
Rory McIlroy begins Italian Open with superb 67 after recovering from slow start
He kick-started his round by holing out from 115 yards for an eagle on the par-four third.
Shane Lowry: Golf risks alienating fans with disgusting amount of money involved
The BMW PGA Championship winner insists he was never tempted to join LIV Golf.