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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A giant end for Tommy Fleetwood and a quick begin for Keegan Bradley led every to a 7-under 65 on Thursday for a share of the lead within the opening spherical of The Gamers Championship.
Fleetwood saved a clear card within the March wind, saved his persistence and was rewarded on the finish with three birdie putts. Bradley had three eagle putts on the entrance 9, made considered one of them, and picked up a pair of birdies on the entrance 9.
Tiger Woods made just one par on the again 9 — 5 birdies, three bogeys — in a spherical of 70. He has solely damaged 70 within the opening spherical one time on the TPC Sawgrass, when he received in 2013.
“Often if I had one par, it is often taking pictures 30 or 29,” Woods stated. “Not what I did immediately.”
It wasn’t as clear as Woods needed, particularly enjoying late within the afternoon when the wind started to die and the greens picked up a bit of extra pace.
Even so, it was an inexpensive begin at a match the place the secret’s to not fall too far behind, whether or not it is in March or Might.
The transfer from Might to its conventional spot on the calendar introduced inexperienced, softer circumstances and extra wind than normal. Even so, Fleetwood was amongst a number of early starters who managed to take goal on the TPC Sawgrass.
Fleetwood had just one birdie on the marginally simpler again 9, and completed with birdie putts from 15 ft, 30 ft and 18 ft.
“For those who’re within the fairway on a regular basis, the course feels very, very totally different,” Fleetwood stated. “And it is a large key round right here. After which I simply began selecting a couple of photographs up, and then you definately get on a run like 7, eight, 9, and it feels nice after that. Simply considered one of them would really feel like an ideal spherical, so three of them … I am going to take it.”
Byeong Hun An and Brian Harman have been at 66, whereas Rory McIlroy additionally performed bogey-free for a 67. He was in a gaggle with Ryan Moore, who made the ninth hole-in-one on the island-green 17th gap, and Vaughn Taylor, who should love the transfer again to March.
Taylor is amongst 23 gamers who’ve competed on the Stadium Gamers Course in each months. He tied for eighth the final time it was in March in 2006. Within the eight instances he performed in Might, he by no means made the reduce.
Bradley, who per week in the past shared the 36-hole lead with Fleetwood at Bay Hill, has just one high 10 in his eight journeys to the TPC Sawgrass.
Early in my profession, I felt so uncomfortable on this course. I actually did not play effectively right here,” Bradley stated. “It did not actually get pleasure from … it simply wasn’t a very good match for me. After which this yr, I actually benefit from the totally different circumstances that we’re enjoying in. I just like the tough higher, and I feel it is a good time of yr to play right here.”
Bradley had eagle putts from the perimeter on the par-5 11th and brief par-Four 12th, each instances settling for two-putt birdies. He drilled his second shot on the par-5 16th to the center of the inexperienced and watched it feed to 12 ft away for his eagle. He performed the again 9 in 31, made a 5-foot birdie on No. 1 and sprinkled in a couple of key par saves earlier than a remaining birdie to catch Fleetwood.
Harris English had an albatross — the third straight yr for one at The Gamers — on the par-5 11th gap.
The scoring wasn’t uncommon, nor was the tight leaderboard. It was merely the way in which the golf course was enjoying — longer off the tee as a result of the fairways aren’t fairly as quick with rye overseed, softer across the greens.
In Might or in March, there’s usually no lack of pleasure at Sawgrass.
McIlroy was amongst those that authorised of the calendar change. This was solely the third time in 10 begins at The Gamers he broke 70 within the first spherical.
“I feel the course over the past 10 years … it hasn’t lent itself to aggressive play,” McIlroy stated. “It is form of place and irons of the tee and actually making an attempt to plot your approach across the golf course. I hit drivers on holes immediately that I might by no means have hit driver the previous few years.
“I do not know if the course is simpler or not,” he stated. “We’ll see what the stroke common is on the finish of the day. However as a result of I feel it is enjoying longer, it’s going to play longer for a lot of the guys, and I feel it ought to all even out. However I undoubtedly just like the golf course the way in which it’s in March.”
Regardless of the month, the island inexperienced remains to be there.
Moore used a 54-degree wedge for the primary ace on the 17th gap since Sergio Garcia two years in the past. It was the ninth hole-in-one on essentially the most notorious gap at Sawgrass throughout The Gamers. Paul Casey put two within the water on the 17th and made a quadruple bogey.