Johnson enjoys best ever Players round

Aubrey Yates
May 14, 2018

With AP Photos.Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson delivered plenty of entertainment at The Players Championship.

Simpson, who has four top-10s against just one missed cut this season, briefly held the clubhouse lead after his 66. - Dustin Johnson is beginning to solve the puzzle that is the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing together for the first time in almost four years, were out in the afternoon when the light wind was a little stronger.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.

There weren't many fireworks in their group, which was filled out by Rickie Fowler.

Johnson carded his lowest score - and first bogey-free round - at Sawgrass in 31 attempts, while closest rival and compatriot Thomas finished the day at one over par. Casey's withdrawal left 49 of the top 50 players in the field, meaning the 2016 U.S. Open is still the most recent tournament to feature the full top 50.

Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Alex Noren set the pace early.

"If you're on your game, this course suits you", Kuchar said. Johnson and the early birds couldn't ask for better scoring conditions at the TPC Sawgrass.

It involves a player holding up one or two fingers, depending on the length of the putt, to help determine. He shot 72 in his first time at The Players since in three years.

Mickelson flamed out Thursday with an opening-round 79, and Fowler was on his way to a weekend tee time before he lost a ball in a tree on his 15th hole for a double-bogey.

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Or maybe they were just bored.

Johnson does not have a strong record at TPC Sawgrass, with a 12th-place finish past year his only top-25 showing in nine previous starts. He liked the results. However, with calm winds and ideal scoring conditions in the morning, Johnson opened the tournament on the back nine and rolled in five birdies to make the turn at 5-under 31. Johnson only gave himself a few reasonable chances the rest of the way, though he was more than happy with his 66.

On a day when the winds stayed down and there was little defence for the golf course, 38 players shot in the 60s.

"I don't think I putted very well around here as a whole", Johnson said. "I enjoy playing it, and I feel like I should play well here". So it definitely works. "I was playing better than that. I'm pretty sure that on Saturday morning when we go out it will definitely be a little easier than it was this afternoon". That's the one thing I've struggled with around here, and obviously today I rolled it nicely.

Mickelson was hanging around until chopping up the 14th hole for a double bogey, and then adding a pair of doubles on the 16th and 17th with balls in the water.

There was another logjam of six players at 67, including rookie Keith Mitchell and 51-year-old Steve Stricker. That was enough to remind him he can still challenge the best.

"That's golf, unfortunately", said Woods, who completed 36 holes at 143, 1 under par. "I've certainly figured out which holes that I don't play well". Two weeks in a row for me, last week Quail Hollow was ideal for me, as well. Back on putting surfaces he knows, Woods made a number of key putts. "So my mindset today was just to be as smart as I can and stay away from those big numbers". He also drove the 12th green to 10 feet for eagle. Woods hit only five fairways.

"I can hit it better", Kim said.

Spain's Rahm is four under, while American three-time major victor Spieth struggled to a three-over 75. McIlroy topped his group but was tied for 55th overall.

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