Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mackenzie Hughes, William McGirt tied for Players Championship lead

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Canadian rookie Mackenzie Hughes played bogey-free in his debut at the Players Championship and shot 5-under 67 to share the lead with William McGirt after an opening round Thursday that showed anew that TPC Sawgrass has surprises around every corner.

Few know better than Adam Scott, the 2004 champion, who had a one-shot lead going into the par-3 17th hole.

First, he watched Masters champion Sergio Garcia salvage his poor round by making a hole-in-one at the infamous island green. Scott followed by spinning a shot off the bank and into the water for a double bogey, and he compounded that with another double bogey.

"I played some good golf out there and unfortunately not on the last two," Scott said after settling for 70. "It happens."

Dustin Johnson's first wedge of the day hit the pin, caromed off the green and led to bogey. On a day nothing seemed to go his way, the world's No. 1 player opened with 71. Rory McIlroy went to tap in from 2 feet and missed, and then had to make one twice that long for double bogey on the 10th hole. He shot 73.

Through it all, Hughes was solid. The Players Stadium Course must be easy, huh. Hughes laughed and shook his head. "No. It's very hard."

Sergio's wakeup call

Sergio Garcia thought the loudest cheer he might hear all day would be at the first tee when he was introduced as the Masters champion.

That was before he stood on the 17th tee with a gap wedge in his hand and watched his shot bounce in front of the pin on the island green, land just behind the hole and spin back slightly into the cup.

"The feeling was great," he said.

Garcia was 4 over through six holes to start the tournament and had not made up any ground until a birdie on the 16th, his ace on the 17th and a par save on the 18th for 73.

"I think I wasn't quite in the tournament because of everything that's been going on after the Masters win," he said. "I felt like I was a little bit up in the clouds, and when I woke up, I was 4 over after six."

Rory's back

Rory McIlroy said he needed to drop a few pounds coming off his recent wedding and honeymoon. He also revealed after opening with a 73 that he re-aggravated a rib injury in the build up to this week's championship, which limited his preparation.

McIlroy missed two months this season with the injury.

"I've been very limited hitting golf balls," McIlroy said. " Just aggravated that joint in my back again."

McIlroy said he is resting and managing his back, and will pay more attention to recovery when he's off next week before beginning a busy summer.

Jordan the grounds keeper

Jordan Spieth was so irritated by a poor rake job in the bunker left of the first green that he wanted to document the evidence. So he reached into his bag for his phone and took a picture.

"It was just a bunker that was raked to where it just kind of looked like somebody didn't really care much to do it or were rushing off the green," Spieth said. "And I overreacted probably a bit, but all in all, you just don't see that very often."

Compounding the frustration, Spieth blasted out to 45 feet and three-putted for double bogey. He was never under par the rest of the day and shot 73.

Number of the day

18 Balls in the water at the No. 17 island green in the first round

Mackenzie Hughes, William McGirt tied for Players Championship lead 05/11/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 11, 2017 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
  5. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.