Spieth, Woods, and Mickelson Struggle At THE PLAYERS


If you were looking for a word to describe round one at THE PLAYERS Championship it would be “struggle.”  Golf’s unofficial fifth major showed its teeth and took down some of the world’s best on Thursday.  After day one there isn’t a single player in the top ten who has won a major championship, but there are a few outside the cut line.

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Hidek Matsuyama, David Hearn, Charley Hoffman, & Kevin Na lead the way at five under par. Thank goodness it’s only round one because if they were going to be your best argument for sneaking away a few hours on Mother’s Day to watch the final round, then you’d need to do some serious begging.  Sure Matsuyama and Hoffman have had solid years but they aren’t exactly world-beaters.  The biggest name remaining in the top ten is last year’s FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel, who nearly prevented Rory McIlroy from getting out of his group last week at the Match Play.

Speaking of the world’s best player, he got off to a blazing start on the Stadium Course’s back nine.  He opened his day with five straight pars and then cranked things up with a birdie on the par-4 15th, and then followed that up with an eagle on the par-5 16th.   An opening nine 33 had Rory poised for a big first round until the jets cooled on the front side with an even par 36 .  After the round McIlroy talked about his solid play on the front and struggles on the back.

"“I just feel comfortable on it, feel comfortable on the closing stretch,” McIlroy said of TPC Sawgrass’ back nine. “If I can keep up my good play on back nine like I have and be a little bit more consistent like I was on the front nine, then hopefully that bodes well for the week.” (Credit PGATour.com)"

If things bode well for Rory the rest of the week it could go a long way in showing that he is the best player in this media proclaimed “rivalry” with Jordan Spieth.  While the two spent the days leading up to round one discounting any notion of a tug-of-war between the two, world number one got the best of world number two on Thursday.  Playing in the same group the Masters champ ended the day at +3, six shots behind McIlroy.

"“Just a really, really poor day,” Spieth said.  “I’ve got to find something to work on.  Sometimes when you’re hitting it really well, you just get tough breaks and you have a bad day.  This wasn’t one of those. I actually really need to find something on the range.  Just hasn’t been good ball striking this week.”  (Credit Golf Channel)"

We go from golf’s newest rivalry to its former one, as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did little to help us remember the days of yesteryear.  It was almost as if the two were coming into the week under the radar, and they did nothing to change that on Thursday.  Both struggled on their way to matching 1-over 73s and look more like they’ll be home for the weekend rather than fighting for a trophy.  Woods teed it up for only the second time since walking off Torrey Pines in February and said today was average at best.

"“I didn’t get much out of that round. I hit the ball better than I think the score indicates, and I got a couple good breaks and never took advantage of them.”  (Credit Golf Channel)"

Next: Spieth Not On Rory's Level

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