Two Britons lead the Players, Woods in a danger of a cut again
Martin Laird had never had any success on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Ian Poulter, on the other hand, finished second at THE PLAYERS in 2009.
On Thursday, though, the two men with such diverse history in the PGA TOUR’s signature event find themselves tied for the lead at 7 under. Laird’s round was particularly impressive given that he had never broken 70 on Pete Dye’s signature course, and it was accomplished without dropping a shot to par.
“Any time you go around this golf course bogey‑free is obviously a very good day,” Laird said. “I putted really well and chipped the ball well. You know, I did miss a few greens out there from good spots in the middle of the fairways but managed to scramble really well and chipped them up there close enough where I could make the putt. “
Poulter’s round was a career-low at the Stadium Course – his previous best a first-round 67 the year he finished four strokes behind Henrik Stenson. He came to THE PLAYERS on a hot streak – finishing third at Bay Hill and seventh at the Masters in his last two starts.
The colorful Englishman played solidly on Thursday. He hit 11 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and used just 26 putts. He ranked in the top-20 in all three categories when he was done, too.
“It was a very, very good round of golf,” Poulter said. “That’s definitely probably in the top 10 of the rounds of golf I’ve ever played. To turn around and say, that you’re going to walk off 7 under par a little bit disappointed, but if I look at the chances I had on the front nine, that could have easily been a few more.”
The two are one stroke ahead of Blake Adams while Kevin Na and Ben Crane are tied for fourth at 67. Crane’s presence on the leaderboard is hardly a surprise given the fact that he’s finished sixth or better three of the last four years.
Reigning FedExCup champion Bill Haas headlines a group of 11 players tied at 68. Among those are Adam Scott, the 2004 PLAYERS champion, Matt Kuchar and Ben Curtis, who ended a six-year victory drought at the Valero Texas Open four weeks ago and has been on leaderboards ever since.
The scoring average on Thursday was 72.373. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, who rank 1-2 in the world, shot even par, the former after a water-logged double bogey at the 17th hole. Tiger Woods shot 74. World No. 3 Lee Westwood came in with a 71, as did Phil Mickelson, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday.
Tiger Woods opened with a 74 that left him tied for 100th and in danger of missing his second straight cut.Written by PGA Tour
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