PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — A brand new spot on the calendar modified the look of The Gamers, however not the drama: There was Tiger Woods reeling off birdies and bogeys; Phil Mickelson struggling in an occasion he wasn’t positive he would play within the first place; and powerful begins from names like Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood. And there was an albatross, an eagle and a bunch of low scores.
So what’s going to Spherical 2 carry?
On Tiger’s begin, and his earlier begin Friday
Tiger Woods’ work with Justin Thomas’ coach already is paying dividends for his putter.
For the primary time in his previous six PGA Tour rounds, Woods did not have a three-putt in his opening spherical 70 at The Gamers Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
It’s Woods’ second-lowest opening spherical at The Gamers since firing a 67 in 2013, when he gained the match for the second time.
All several types of gamers have gained the PGA Tour’s signature occasion. So it is smart that our picks for The Gamers are in all places.
Tiger Woods battled again from some early-round struggles to shoot a 2-under-par 70 on the Gamers Championship, nevertheless it was the fourth time in 4 opening rounds in 2019 that he failed to interrupt 70 and 17th time in 18 Gamers.
Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley shared the lead within the opening spherical of The Gamers Championship after every shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Woods frolicked with Thomas’ coach, Matt Killen, throughout a apply spherical and on the placing inexperienced.
“It wasn’t like I needed to do so much,” Woods stated. “I simply bought again into one thing that I do naturally. I putt with the toe transferring and the toe releasing. My face strikes much more than most gamers do. We simply went again to that. I really feel like I can go forward and hit it with my proper hand once more. It felt good once more.”
Woods stated his current neck damage solely exasperated his placing woes. In his earlier two Tour occasions, he had 12 three-putts or worse. In his third spherical on the WGC-Mexico Championship, he even had his first four-putt in a non-major since 2010 at Quail Hole.
“I felt like I rolled it [in Thursday’s first round],” Woods stated. “I used to be in a position to get on the market and really feel comfy. It felt fairly good.”
Tiger Woods explains how regardless of solely capturing for par as soon as on the again 9, he nonetheless felt comfy out on the inexperienced.
Woods’ improved efficiency on the inexperienced saved him in competition after the primary spherical; he trails co-leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley by 5 pictures.
Woods hopes an earlier tee time on Friday will assist carry him even nearer to the leaders. 4 of the seven gamers with scores of 5-under or higher on Thursday teed off earlier than the wind began blowing within the afternoon.
“That is what a lot of the guys did earlier at this time — all of them went low,” Woods stated. “All of the low rounds appeared like they went out within the morning. Hopefully, we are able to catch it on the calm facet and publish a low quantity, after which see if the fellows should face what we needed to face within the afternoon at this time, when it was transferring fairly good.”
A brief go to for Mickelson?
Will Phil Mickelson miss one other lower at The Gamers? After having doubts about whether or not to play this week, Mickelson shot an opening-round 74.
It’s the fifth time previously seven years that Mickelson failed to interrupt par within the opening spherical right here. He has missed the lower 5 occasions previously six years.
After lacking the lower at Bay Hill final week, Mickelson almost pulled out of The Gamers. He did not resolve to remain within the area till after he noticed the course in individual.
“The setup was actually good, I feel, as a result of the tough is playable. The situation of the course is actually good,” Mickelson stated. “The greens are tender. The situations could not be higher for scoring. Sadly, I simply do not play this course very effectively, and that is the underside line.”
Mickelson began on the again and shot 1-under with birdies on Nos. 12 and 17. After making one other birdie on No. 1 to maneuver to 2-under, issues fell aside for him on the par-Three No. Three gap, the place he four-putted for a triple bogey.
“I attempted to hit an Eight-iron to the middle of the inexperienced,” Mickelson stated. “I pushed it left, the one place you possibly can’t go. I used to be so upset I could not get the ball on the inexperienced, I misplaced my focus and four-putted.”
On the No. 5 gap, he hit his second shot off a cart path and two-putted for bogey.
Hey, look, it is Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood has been identified to go low — simply not this early in a match. David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
For the primary time in 47 profession PGA Tour occasions, Fleetwood has at the very least a share of an 18-hole lead after a 7-under 65. Fleetwood shot 30 on the entrance 9, turning into solely the third participant within the final 20 years to shoot 6-under on the entrance within the first spherical. Fleetwood hit 10 of 14 fairways and ranked second in strokes gained: tee to inexperienced at Four.610.
“I stayed affected person,” Fleetwood stated. “The wind picked up and the course bought robust. There have been some robust holes there, however I type of drove it so effectively that I used to be all the time in a superb place. Should you’re within the fairway on a regular basis, the course feels very, very completely different, and it is a large key round right here.”
Tommy Fleetwood’s lowest opening rounds
TournamentYearScore to par2019The Gamers-72018RBC Canadian Open-62017U.S. Open-52015WGC-HSBC Championship-5
Rory’s in it once more
For the second time in three PGA Tour occasions, Rory McIlroy opened with a spherical within the 60s. He shot 67, two pictures behind Fleetwood, after capturing a 63 within the first spherical en path to a solo second on the WGC-Mexico Championship in February. He is completed no worse than T-6 in 2019, however doesn’t have a win.
McIlroy stated the course’s March setup, with shorter rye tough, plusher fairways and softer greens, invited him to be extra aggressive than he’d been previously, when the Gamers was historically performed in Might.
“I feel the course over the past 10 years, it hasn’t lent itself to aggressive play,” McIlroy stated. “It is kind of place and irons off tees and actually making an attempt to plot your manner across the golf course, the place I hit drivers on holes at this time that I’d have by no means hit driver the previous couple of years.”
A kind of holes was the par-Four No. Four gap, the place McIlroy cranked a 295-yard drive, leaving him 94 yards to the outlet. He two-putted for par.
“Even once you’re aggressive and also you miss, it is a contact simpler to get your self again into place,” McIlroy stated. “The tough is not as lengthy or as gnarly. You are working into pine straw and you continue to have some kind of a shot and management of your ball.
“After which once you miss the greens, you are not having to take care of that Bermuda. You are not having to guess, ‘How is that this going to return out?'”
When the important thing gamers hit the course
Friday’s notable tee occasions
PlayersStarting time (All occasions ET)Keegan Bradley, Andrew Landry, Si Woo Kim8:22 a.m.Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed*Eight:32 a.m.Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Tony Finau*Eight:53 a.m.Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth*9:04 a.m.Byeong Hun An, Scott Brown, Beau Hossler12:45 p.m.Tommy Fleetwood, Keith Mitchell, Austin Cook1:17 p.m.Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele1:27 p.m.Bryson DeChambeau, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson1:38 p.m.Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia1:48 p.m.Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar1:59 p.m.* denotes beginning on the 10th gap
The place will all of the motion occur this time?
Who’s developing with the good pictures on Friday? As a result of we witnessed some uncommon ones within the opening spherical.
Harris English grew to become solely the fifth participant in Gamers historical past to have a double-eagle — and solely the second to do it on the 11th gap. Hunter Mahan completed the feat on that gap throughout the second spherical in 2007.
English hit a Three-iron from 236 yards and, identical to that, he went from 1-over to 2-under, which is the place he ended up after his opening spherical.
“It was fairly surreal,” English stated. “I used to be simply making an attempt to get a Three-iron on the inexperienced someplace, and it got here off precisely how I needed it to. When it landed, individuals clapped just a little bit after which all the sudden they erupted. I used to be like, ‘Actually? Did that simply go in?'”
As a highschool senior at The Baylor Faculty in Chattanooga, Tennessee, English holed out on consecutive holes within the state championship match. Final season, he had his first profession ace in a PGA Tour occasion within the Dominican Republic.
He says the albatross on Thursday was higher.
“I am 29, and I have been enjoying golf for 24 years, and I’ve by no means seen one or had one,” English stated. “I am positive there are individuals which can be 70 or 80 years previous which have by no means seen it or finished it. It is a fairly unbelievable feat.”
Later within the day, Ryan Moore had the ninth hole-in-one on the long-lasting 17th gap. It was the primary ace of Moore’s Tour profession. Sergio Garcia was the final participant to do it on the island inexperienced, in 2017.
In keeping with ESPN Stats & Data, there have been 857 tee pictures on No. 17 between Garcia’s and Moore’s aces.