Six players share the lead at six under and a further 12 players are within one shot of that mark at TPC Sawgrass, the famed layout known for giving with one hand and taking with the other.
Several players fell victim to the notorious finishing stretch of holes, some of those when leading or near the lead, and at day’s end 26 players are within two shots of the front-runners, making this one of the more congested day one leaderboards in PGA Tour history.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Cantlay have opened with rounds of 66, the six evenly divided in terms of morning and afternoon tee times. It is the most players tied for the lead after the opening day of this event.
Late in the day, former champion Sergio Garcia and Patrick Cantlay appeared as if they might be the outright opening round leaders but Garcia would double bogey the dangerous par-3 17th hole after finding the water from the tee and then bogey the last after missing the green right and shares 13th at 4 under.
Cantlay began his round at the 10th and after an outward nine of 32 added three more birdies before a bogey at his 17th (the 8th) after missing the lengthy par-3 well to the right cost him the outright lead. He had a chance to regain it at the last with an 8-foot birdie attempt but it missed and he would finish in the large group as joint leaders.
Johnson has had a three-week break since his last appearance when 16th at the RBC Heritage and today made his best start at the Players Championship in 10 appearances.
A change of putter and the adoption of the Aimpoint method in his putting routine may have played their role and he said so after his round.
While the performance of the world number one was impressive it was not so good for some of those nearest to him in the world ranking.
The No. 2 ranked player, Justin Thomas, opened with a round of 73 while Jordan Spieth recorded a round of 75.
World No. 3 Jon Rahm, however, is well placed after his round of 68.
Tiger Woods opened with a round of even par 72 and while in 69th position he is just six shots from the lead.
The Australians were led by rounds of 69 from Jason Day and Adam Scott and more on their efforts can be found here.
RULES: GRASS COVERED AREAS IN BUNKERS
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