Players Championship 2017: Live Updates — Golf Digest/Golf World will be keeping you informed on all the action from TPC Sawgrass throughout the week.
11:10 AM: You think of J.B. Holmes, and you think of his world-class length and piercing iron shots.
En route to grabbing a share of the 54-hole lead at TPC Sawgrass, though, Holmes is showcasing other strengths.
The bomber had just 25 putts in the third round, picking up more than four strokes on the field on the greens. His Strokes-Gained/Putting performance (7.613) is really off the charts, and the reason why Holmes has a chance for the biggest win of his PGA Tour career.
It hasn’t mattered that Holmes has hit just 40.48 percent of his fairways (17 of 42) or hitting just 57 percent of his greens in regulation. It’s been the short game that has bailed out the long-hitting Holmes through three rounds.
9:32 AM: It’s one of the best Sundays of the year for golf. Happy Mothers Day to everyone — what would we do without our Moms?
You’ll see a plethora of pink at TPC Sawgrass today for breast-cancer awareness. Always a worthy cause that deserves our attention. Our thoughts, too, lie with Jason Day, whose mother is currently battling lung cancer. And Martin Kaymer, whose mother, Rina, lost her fight with skin cancer in 2008. The 2014 Players champion keeps a sunflower on his bag in honor of her.
Also worth our attention is this leaderboard at The Players. A number of players have a chance at this year’s tournament. Most people have their eye on Sergio Garcia, sitting T-7 and just four shots back of Kyle Stanley’s and Louis Oosthuizen’s lead.
Can Sergio join Tiger Woods (2001) as the only one to win the Masters and the Players Championship in the same year?
It was just a couple years ago when Tiger and Sergio were dueling on the back nine Sunday, as Tiger edged Sergio out for the 2013 Players. Sergio was tied for the lead with Tiger coming into the 17th hole, but Sergio took an aggressive line off the tee and drenched his tee shot.
We’ll hope for an equally exciting final round today at The Players.
7:30 PM: That was quite a finish on moving day at the Players. Kyle Stanley grabbed a share of the lead after a birdie on the 17th and then made an excellent sand save on the final hole to stay at 9-under. He and J.B. Holmes take a one shot lead into the final round.
Louis Oosthuizen made a great comeback par putt on 18 to stay at 8-under, just one back in solo third.
It should be a wild finish Sunday, with 10 players within five shots of the lead. Some of the notables in that pack: Ian Poulter (-6), Sergio Garcia (-5), and Patrick Cantlay (-5).
Thanks for following along and be sure to check back tomorrow for what’s going to be a fascinating day at the Players.
6:59 PM: Scratch that birdie for Vijay on the par-5 16th, he ended up making par. And it gets worse. The Fijian has put two balls in the water on the 17th and is officially out of contention. It was fun while it lasted. His partner, J.B. Holmes, hit one stiff on the par-3 and rolled in the birdie putt. He’s your solo leader at 9-under.
Back on the 16th, Oosthuizen just lipped out a bomb of an eagle putt. He’ll tap in and get to 8-under, one back of Holmes. Stanley made a solid par to remain at 8-under as well. To the 17th we go….
6:47 PM: Poulter gets into the clubhouse without dropping a shot in his round of 1-under 71. He’s played 28 consecutive holes without a bogey, and had the only bogey-free round of the day Saturday. He’s 6-under overall, firmly in the mix heading into Sunday. What a breakthrough that would be for the Englishman to get a victory tomorrow and silence the doubters. He’ll need to continue to stay away from the bogeys to pull it off.
Other than Poulter’s finish, nothing drastic has happened since we last checked in. Tough to watch Vijay limp his way in, but it looks like he may finally get one back on the 16th. Holmes and Stanley head into the home stretch still tied for the lead at 8-under.
6:22 PM: J.B. Holmes just showed everybody why he is on tour and we aren’t. He saves bogey after a disastrous drive on arguably the hardest hole on the course. He’s now tied at 8-under with Kyle Stanley.
Ian Poulter’s streak continues through 16 holes, and he’s just knocked one on the 17th green. He’ll have a legitimate chance for birdie to get to 7-under and within a shot of the leaders, and will almost certainly keep the streak alive with a simple two-putt. Quite a performance this week for Poulter when he needs it most.
6:04 PM: Yikes. J.B. Holmes is in big trouble on the 14th hole. He took the solo lead thanks to a birdie on the 12th, but it looks like that won’t last much longer. Not even sure if the drive he just hit is still on the property.
Si Woo Kim’s entertaining round is over. After making his first bogey on the 16th, he bounced back strong with a birdie on the famous 17th and a par on the 18th. His 4-under 68 gets him to 7-under and gives him the lead in the clubhouse. Big spot to be in heading into Sunday for someone in just their second Players Championship appearance.
5:55 PM: Stat of the day comes from Ian Poulter, who remarkably has not dropped a shot in 24 consecutive holes. He’s channeled his inner Phil Mickelson today, scrambling from everywhere for pars. Since his birdie on the par-5 2nd, he’s made 12 straight. We’ll see if that can last as he heads to the gauntlet of 16, 17, and 18.
5:43 PM: All of a sudden it’s getting pretty wild on the back nine. After J.B. Holmes finally got his first birdie, Oosthuizen gets one on the 11th to make it a three-way tie at the top.
Up ahead, Patrick Cantlay hit an absolutely majestic shot on the par-3 13th to kick-in range. He’s now just one back.
Then there’s Si Woo Kim, who continues to entertain. His second shot out of the pine straw on the par-5 16th unfortunately found the water, but he was able to knock his fourth shot inside 10 feet for a solid look at par. It doesn’t go, and his bogey-free round sees its first blemish.
5:30 PM: You might’ve seen Rickie Fowler’s tee shot find a tree off the fairway on the 18th hole today. You need to read this story from our Alex Myers about what happened to that ball. Great reporting from TPC Sawgrass by Myers.
Meanwhile, J.B. Holmes just birdied the 11th hole to tie Stanley for the lead. A bogey by Oosthuizen at 10 drops him to one back. It’s going to be a battle to hold on for these guys on the back nine.
5:03 PM: Louis Oosthuizen hasn’t done anything remarkable, just hanging on and playing for pars on Saturday. A birdie at the ninth hole gives the South African a share of the lead along with Stanley (8-under).
Speaking of remarkable feats, how about hitting driver from a trampled down area of the rough? Si-Woo Kim is doing his best to turn heads on Moving Day at The Players.
4:45 PM: Things haven’t come easy for Kyle Stanley on Saturday. Playing in the final group of the day, Stanley bogeyed three of his first four holes — and understandably there might be some nerves for the 2012 Waste Management winner.
But Stanley cozied in a birdie at the eighth hole to take the outright lead. That’s his 17th birdie of the week (through 44 holes). Some really, really good golf. And impressive to turn around that string of bogeys to grab the lead.
4:29 PM: We’ve seen all sorts of plays at the new, reachable par-4 12th hole this week. How about the ricochet-tree shot onto the green for an eagle putt? Si-Woo Kim did just that.
Though he didn’t hole the eagle, his tap-in birdie propels the 21-year-old into a share of the lead at 7-under for the tournament. Kim is 4-under on the day.
The four-way tie for the lead now: Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley, J.B. Holmes and now Kim, all at -7.
4:02 PM: Sergio got into the clubhouse with a 5-under 67 — currently just two shots behind the leaders. The Masters champion is looking to win both titles in the same season, a feat only accomplished by Tiger Woods in 2001.
Meanwhile, former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Emiliano Grillo also fired a third-round 67. Grillo is one better than Sergio — sitting at 6-under for the tournament and just one back of the current lead.
3:14 PM: Sergio missed a good opportunity for birdie at the 17th hole, but for Sergio, just parring into the clubhouse would be ideal. The Spaniard is 6-under for the day, now just two off the lead of Kyle Stanley and Louis Oosthuizen, who both bogeyed the first hole.
3:05 PM: An eagle now from Sergio Garcia at the 16th hole has the Masters champion moving up the leader board rapidly, putting himself very much in the golf tournament.
Following three straight birdies on the 11th through 13th holes, the Spaniard holed his putt from off the green to move to 6-under. Wow . . . fresh off his green jacket win, Garcia is making a BIG move on Saturday at TPC Sawgrass.
Meanwhile, Vijay Singh just smoked his second shot at the second hole — and just missed a 12-footer for eagle. 54-year-old Vijay is now just two back of the lead.
2:58 PM: Jon Rahm sat just a couple back heading into the day — but he’s going on the reverse on the leaderboard. And apparently not too happy about it . . .
2:50 PM: Rickie Fowler has had one of the best rounds of the day going this afternoon. Until his tee shot at the 18th hole sparked a disastrous end to his Saturday at TPC Sawgrass.
Here’s a look at his lie after his tee shot.
Not exactly playable. So he took his unplayable, but rinsed the next shot. The result? A triple-bogey 7 — leading to an even-par round of 72. At one point, Rickie was 5-under for his back nine. No longer.
2:22 PM: There’s finally a green jacket sighting on the leader board at TPC Sawgrass. With a third consecutive birdie, Sergio Garcia has climbed into the top 10 at four under.
Garcia’s hole-in-one on No. 17 in the opening round remains the highlight of the week, but after a couple of so-so days, he’s putting himself in position to contend on Sunday. Not that we should be surprised. The 2008 Players champ is also the event’s all-time money earner.
1:57 PM: It hasn’t been Rory McIlroy’s week at TPC Sawgrass. It’s perhaps a combination of health and his new equipment — admitting his back is still not 100 percent, and adjusting to the first tournament round with new clubs.
That new driving iron in the bag? Rory has no trouble hitting that a far ways. And after bombing one on the 12th hole on Saturday, he might need to harness that power a little bit.
This one flew about 285 yards:
ShotLink says his tee shot, with an iron, rolled out to 329 yards. The firm green landing downhill led to the crazy distance. But still, hitting an iron almost 330 yards is something none of us could say . . .
1:36 PM: Jason Day drops in a 10-foot curler for birdie on No. 5 to get to four under and move into the top 10. The defending Players champ was five under at one point during his opening round before falling back. Day is trying to become the first golfer to successfully defend his title at TPC Sawgrass.
1:01 PM: Dustin Johnson gets up and down for birdie on the par-5 ninth to complete a front-nine 34. Johnson hit a majestic 4-iron over the green to set it up, but his most impressive shot of the day (so far) came on the par-4 sixth with a wedge. After an errant 1-iron off the tee into the trees, Johnson appeared to be in jail, but he hit his second shot from the pine straw through a window in the trees to 20 feet and two-putted for par. Still, the World No. 1 has a lot of work to do if he’s going to contend for a fourth win in five starts.
12:18 PM: It was a bogey finish at 18 for Perez, but it’s still one of the best rounds of the week at the Stadium Course. Perez’s 6-under 66 puts the veteran to 4-under for the tournament — a big push on Moving Day indeed.
Here’s his tee shot at the 17th hole. This will be tough to match for shot of the day on 17.
What a round it was:
12:03 PM: Pat Perez is having a career rejuvenation this season. The 41-year-old won at Mayakoba to start the year for his first victory since 2009, and he has had many strong finishes in 2017.
Add to that list this Saturday push at The Players.
Perez started the day 2-over par for the tournament, but a sizzling 7-under-par round on Saturday (through 17 holes) had Double P just four back of the leaders — with more than two hours until the final groups are teeing off. Amazing.
And he nearly won last weekend, one of many strong finishes in 2017, finishing T-2 at the Wells Fargo, nearly missing a playoff.
11:08 AM: The afternoon wave of tee times will start making their way to the first tee at the Stadium Course here shortly. What should we expect from Moving Day at The Players? Well, odds are, there won’t be as much carnage as Friday.
The island-green 17th hole, which always provides entertainment, saw the most golf balls in the water on a single in 13 years.
And this 97 second video just about sums it up.
8:35 AM: Good morning! Here are your tee times and pairings for Saturday at The Players:
Here’s a look at the Saturday tee times:
8:10 a.m. — Ben Crane, Grayson Murray
8:20 a.m. — Branden Grace, Bernd Wiesberger
8:30 a.m. — Brian Harman, Pat Perez
8:40 a.m. — Charley Hoffman, Blayne Barber
8:50 a.m. — Kevin Kisner, Jim Herman
9 a.m. — Tyrrell Hatton, Rod Pampling
9:10 a.m. — Chris Kirk, Brian Stuard
9:20 a.m. — Boo Weekley, Michael Kim
9:30 a.m. — Gary Woodland, Sung Kang
9:40 a.m. — Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson
9:50 a.m. — Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Streelman
10 a.m. — Justin Rose, Alex Cejka
10:10 a.m. — Ryan Moore, Patrick Reed
10:20 a.m. — Cody Gribble, Lee Westwood
10:30 a.m. — Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler
10:40 a.m. — Ricky Barnes, David Lingmerth
10:50 a.m. — Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner
11 a.m. — Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas
11:10 a.m. — Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar
11:20 a.m. — Kevin Chappell, Martin Kaymer
11:30 a.m. — Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin
11:40 a.m. — Hideki Matsuyama, Graeme McDowell
11:50 a.m. — Francesco Molinari, Aaron Baddeley
12 p.m. — Brooks Koepka, Russell Henley
12:10 p.m. — Yuta Ikeda, Billy Hurley III
12:20 p.m. — Phil Mickelson, William McGirt
12:30 p.m. — Henrik Stenson, Jason Day
12:40 p.m. — Mackenzie Hughes, Daniel Summerhays
12:50 p.m. — Adam Scott, Steve Stricker
1 p.m. — Seung-Yul Noh, Roberto Castro
1:10 p.m. — Cameron Tringale, Tommy Fleetwood
1:20 p.m. — Daniel Berger, Harold Varner III
1:30 p.m. — Smylie Kaufman, Si Woo Kim
1:40 p.m. — Paul Casey, Ben Martin
1:50 p.m. — Lucas Glover, Brendan Steele
2 p.m. — Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson
2:10 p.m. — Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie
2:20 p.m. — Patrick Cantlay, Alex Noren
2:30 p.m. — David Hearn, Rafael Cabrera-Bello
2:40 p.m. — J.B. Holmes, Vijay Singh
2:50 p.m. — Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley
7:18 PM: It was another tough afternoon at TPC Sawgrass. Here’s a look at the noteable names at The Players:
–Dustin Johnson: 71-73: Even par, nine off the lead.
–Rory McIlroy: 73-71: Even par, nine off the lead.
–Jason Day: 70-72: 2-under; seven off the lead.
–Jordan Spieth: 73-75: 4-over; missed cut.
–Phil Mickelson: 70-72: 2-under; seven off the lead.
–Adam Scott: 70-72: 2-under; seven off the lead.
–Henrik Stenson: 72-70: 2-under; seven off the lead.
6:39 PM: Jordan Spieth watched playing competitor Phil Mickelson hit too far into the water at the 17th hole. And needing a couple birdies to make the cut, Spieth follows Phil into the drink — meaning he’ll miss his third straight cut at The Players.
Golf, you’re a cruel game.
And for Lefty, that means a double bogey after his drop to fall to 2-under for the tournament.
6:18 PM: What a run by Vijay Singh on Friday at The Players. The 54-year-old turned back the clock and made five birdies, allowing him to make a run at the lead before dropping a shot on his final hole. But the Fijian shot a 4-under 68 in the second round to get in the mix.
Perhaps this was fueled by this tweet from Tiger Woods earlier in the week, referencing his FedEx Cup title 10 year ago, in which he called out Vijay a little bit.
Let the rivalry continue.
5:52 PM: How about Kyle Stanley? He just made his eight birdie of the day through 16 holes — this last one to tie the lead of J.B. Holmes and Louis Oosthuizen.
Stanley, who has one PGA Tour win to his name, has sneakily had a consistent 2017 with two top-10 finishes, and sits 54th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Meanwhile, Jim Furyk’s tee shot at the 17th hole just went drenched, and his drop just did the same thing.
That’ll stop some positive momentum from Furyk, who was 1-under for the day and Even par overall — so that’ll cost him making the cut. How quickly fortunes can change with the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
5:15 PM: It’s a stacked leader board late on Friday at The Players, featuring 20 players within five shots of leaders Oosthuizen and J.B. Holmes, who has made a charge.
Stanley, Singh, and Alex Noren are just one back at 7-under, while Phil continues to scramble his way around and remains at 5-under.
While we were gone, Cody Gribble just happened to hit the shot of the day into the 17th.
4:06 PM: Phil keeps it rolling with an all-world up-and-down at the par-3 8th. He’s two back of leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Kyle Stanley.
3:48 PM: Perhaps the roar of the day comes at the par-4 7th courtesy of Phil Mickelson.
3:30 PM: There has been a ton of movement in the afternoon wave from some big names on Friday, but they are all chasing Louis Oosthuizen at the moment. The South African holds the solo lead at 7-under, with names like Mickelson, Day and Stenson not too far behind.
Vijay Singh continues to plod along without a bogey. He’s just two shots back through eight holes of his second round.
2:48 PM: Quite a bit going on this afternoon, including another birdie from Vijay! He’s 3-under on the day, 5-under for the tournament and one back of solo leader William McGirt.
The group of Zac Blair, Blayne Barber, and Tyrone Van Aswegen each made a contribution to the water on the 17th. Blair wasn’t done after his first shot though, reloading three more times from the tee before finally finding the putting surface. The threesome combined for 18 total strokes on the hole, half of those coming from Blair.
By far the most impressive shot so far came from Jordan Spieth, immediately after one of the worst shots you’ll see all day.
2:32 PM: Anirban Lahiri walked to the 18th tee at even par for the tournament, a shot within the cut line. A routine par, or even a bogey would all but secure him a spot for the weekend. Might want to avert your eyes for this one.
On a lighter note, Francesco Molinari has taken the solo lead after a birdie on the par-4 7th.
2:24 PM: After probably sleeping on the range last night (can’t confirm), Vijay Singh is off to a hot start on Friday at Sawgrass.
2:07 PM: David Lingmerth hasn’t had his best year, but finds himself just one shot off the lead. Let’s see what got him there..
2:00 PM: The birdie-fest we’ve been waiting for has officially begun. Francesco Molinari, Patrick Cantlay, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Louis Oosthuizen have all grabbed a share of the lead at 5-under. Cabrera Bello, however, is the only one to join Hearn in the clubhouse after finishing up with a 2-under 70. The rest are just getting their rounds underway.
1:50 PM: Webb Simpson posts a 3-under 69, matching leader David Hearn’s round and putting him just one back. But the low round of the day so far belongs to Smylie Kaufman, who shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 to get him to 3-under for the tournament. It appears that the respite known as #SBK17 was very good to Smylie’s game.
1:36 PM: The week from hell continues for Scott Piercy, who just put two in the drink on the par-3 17th en route to a snowman. After shooting an 80 yesterday, Piercy is about to post a number even higher today. Kudos to him for sticking it out.
1:16 PM: Daniel Summerhays and Francesco Molinari shot 69s alongside each other yesterday, and continue to feed off one another early in their second round. They both birdied the par-5 2nd hole in almost identical fashion, getting them each just one back of the lead.
1:00 PM: Jon Rahm’s up-and-down day ends on a high note with a birdie on the par-5 9th, his final hole of the day. The Spaniard had four birdies and four bogeys on his way to an even par 72, which puts him at 4-under heading into Saturday’s third round. Not the worst spot to be in for someone making their first appearance at The Players.
12:40 PM : The threesome many expected fireworks from in the morning considering the benign conditions has produced anything but. While Justin Thomas has had an eventful day, he’s still at 1-over for the tournament. His playing partners Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy are a combined 1-over on the round. One positive? They are all inside the cut line and poised to stick around for the weekend, not that any of them would consider that a positive.
12:18 PM: Three players are tied for the lead at 5-under as the afternoon wave gets underway at The Players. David Hearn, who has missed nine cuts in 17 events this season, is one of them after a solid round of 3-under 69. The Canadian had a chance to get into the clubhouse with the solo lead after a birdie at 16 and a par at 17, but bogeyed the difficult par-4 18th. He heads into the weekend in search of his first victory on the PGA Tour.
2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson is at also 5-under after back-to-back birdies to start his back nine at TPC Sawgrass. He’s only through 12 holes, so he’ll have a few more chances to potentially grab the solo lead as he makes his way to the 18th. William McGirt won’t get his round going until 2:03 p.m., but he too sits at 5-under.
After a four-under 68 in his opening round, Chez Reavie went out with three bogeys on his opening nine on Friday. Through 14 holes he remained at 3-over, but fought back on his way in with birdies on three of his last four holes to get back to even on the day, 4-under for the championship. He is just one back with 36 holes to play.
Smylie Kaufman is working on the low round of the day so far at 5-under, which has him at 3-under for the championship.
11:40 AM: David Hearn is officially human after bogeying the 15th hole. Now he faces the difficult finishing stretch of 16, 17 and 18 while tied for the lead with McGirt and Jon Rahm, who birdied the par-5 2nd hole to get his round back on track.
Charging up the leader board is Webb Simpson, who made the turn at 2-under on the day and then added a birdie on the 10th. He’s now 3-under on the day, 4-under for the tournament, just a shot off the pace. Ben Martin is also working on a 3-under round after a birdie on the short par-4 12th. He’s tied with Simpson at 4-under for the tournament.
There is a lot of steady play by those atop the leader board on Friday, and then there is the rollercoaster ride that is the round of Justin Thomas.
Thomas has followed up that colorful front nine with three consecutive birdies on his back nine. He has just one par in 12 holes.
11:05 AM: It doesn’t get much cleaner than the scorecard of David Hearn, who is now the solo leader at The Players. He followed up his birdie on the 12th with a stiff approach on the difficult par-3 13th, which he converted for a second straight birdie. If Hearn can get into the clubhouse without a blemish, he’ll be in an excellent position heading into the weekend.
10:40 AM: The struggles continue for Englishman Danny Willett, who hasn’t been able to find any consistent form since his 2016 Masters victory. After falling to 11-over through 27 holes, Willett has withdrawn, citing a back injury.
Meanwhile, David Hearn has found himself at the top of the leaderboard at 5-under. The Canadian is working on a bogey-free round and just birdied the new-look 12th hole. He’s tied in first with William McGirt and fellow countryman Mackenzie Hughes.
10:14 AM: The biggest highlight of Thursday at The Players was Masters champion Sergio Garcia’s hole-in-one at the famous 17th hole. Now, Sergio gave us another moment to remember on Friday — with a little more luck on his side.
His tee shot bounced straight up off the railroad-ties in front of the green — and promptly landed to about 25 feet. That would be some birdie.
9:49 AM: Pete Dye giveth, and Pete Dye taketh away. Mackenzie Hughes had a two-shot lead for a very brief moment. Until a double-bogey put him back in a tie for the lead at 5-under.
9:36 AM: Move over, Jon Rahm. Another PGA Tour rookie who already has a win this season has grabbed the lead.
Canadian Mackenzie Hughes chipped in on the 12th hole to move to 7-under, one better than Rahm.
Impressive showings thus far from these rookies, bucking the trend of needing experience to exceed at the Stadium Course.
(Note, this tweet incorrectly identifies the holes that Hughes birdied. He birdies the 11th and 12th holes.
9:21 AM: One of the more surprising scores in the afternoon on Thursday was Sergio Garcia dropping four shots over his first six holes. And the Masters champ explained why that might’ve been:
“I was a little bit nervous early on. I think I wasn’t quite in the tournament because of everything that’s been going on with — obviously after the Masters win and media and people congratulating you left, right and center. You know, I felt like I was a little bit up in the clouds, and when I woke up, I was 4-over after 6.”
Sergio got settled after that, leading up to the special hole-in-one at the 17th hole. He fought back to 1-over at the end of his round, and with two early birdies at the 11th and 12th hole, he’s back to red numbers. That’s the Sergio we remember from Augusta.
9:05 AM: Dustin Johnson, with just about the least conventional start you could have off 10. Three-putt birdie on his first hole, then this at the par-5 11th:
8:47 AM: Your new leader: Jon Rahm at 6-under-par with two quick birdies to start his round. The 23-year-old isn’t showing any signs of slowing down — this is a look at his scorecard early on Friday:
8:20 AM: Jon Rahm is quietly one stroke back at The Players, despite his first time around TPC Sawgrass. He starts his second round with a missed birdie putt at the 10th hole. But with some benign conditions this morning might give the early wave a chance to card some birdies, just like the early wave did on Thursday.
8:10 AM: We have another beautiful weather day at TPC Sawgrass as the second round of The Players is underway. It was an eventful opening day, highlighted, perhaps, by Adam Scott four shots in his final two holes to fall out of the lead.
But the Aussie and former Players champ is only three shots back as we kick off Friday. In fact, 32 players are within three shots of the lead as we get underway today — with some bigger names like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia just a couple behind the pace. They’ll need stellar rounds on Friday to get in the mix, but that’s what we expect from that starpower.
6:20 PM: We can think of no better way to end today’s blog than with an ace, courtesy of one Sergio Garcia:
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs are reigning champions and Sergio Garcia, beloved by American fans. Exciting times we live in.
Sadly, Adam Scott puts his shot in the drink, walking off with a double that puts him now at four under.
Thank you for following along today, and check back for tomorrow’s live blog.!
6:11 PM: Scott makes his first real mistake all day, putting his second shot on the par-5 16th in a bunker. Fails to get up-and-down, and walks to the 17th with a disappointing par.
5:56 PM: Sawgrass is supposed to be a mental and emotional drain, a round of golf often labeled an exercise in futility. Someone forgot to give Scott this memo, as he drains another birdie putt to take the lead. He’s walking around the with conviction of a quarterback at the homecoming dance.
5:45 PM: Rory makes another double, this time putting his tee shot on the 14th into the water. McIlroy’s now three over, and desperately needs to get things back on track if he wants to make the weekend.
5:36 PM: Another birdie for Scott, which moves him into a tie for the lead, with an accessible pin at the par-5 16th ahead.
5:24 PM: It’s fascinating how easily Johnson shakes off misfortune. After the lipped birdie putt on the 12th, DJ puts his tee shot on the par-3 13th to within feet. That’s why he’s No. 1, sports fans.
5:15 PM: McIlroy gets one back at the 12th, going for the green and making birdie. DJ, who laid up, watched his birdie attempt lip out.
5:05 PM: Scott takes par on the short 12th, but only one stroke back. He and Louis Oosthuizen are the only two in the top 18 with a major to their credit.
5:00 PM: Give Sergio credit: When things got tough, he didn’t pack it in. He’s played the last four holes in one-under par, and though he’s still three over, a few more birdies can give him some breathing room heading into Friday.
4:46 PM: Also making an afternoon run: Rafael Cabrera Bello. He hasn’t played well in America since the Ryder Cup, missing the weekend in four of his last five tournaments. Nevertheless, Cabrera Bello is three under through his first eight holes.
4:40 PM: McIlroy’s back-nine run prospects take a serious hit, as Rory doubles the 10th, dropping him to two over on the day. Plenty of birdie holes are ahead, though.
4:24 PM: Bubba Watson’s issues with his game continue, as Bubba has bogeyed five of his last six holes. Only three players have higher scores.
4:14 PM: Crowd favorite Boo Weekley makes an appearance on the leader board, moving to three under on the day. Wikipedia tells us that Weekley is 43 years old, which is astonishing because it seems like he’s been 43 for eight years now.
4:05 PM: Adam Scott makes birdie at nine, turning in an 33 strokes. Scott won this event in 2004 but hasn’t done much in the last nine years, his best finish a T-12 in that span.
3:54 PM: Dustin Johnson’s bounced back from his early adversity, getting things back to even as he heads to nine. The back side is playing close to a stroke and a half easier today. If he can finish at 70, he’ll be in prime condition after Day 1.
3:40 PM: Chez Reavie has five birdies through 11 holes, and has moved to one shot back of the leaders. Reavie hasn’t done much in three previous outings at the Players, but he’s looking like a veteran on Thursday afternoon.
3:28 PM: Rahm continues his march around the front at one under through seven, with Adam Scott keeping pace at one under as well. Though the scores aren’t necessarily high this afternoon (Sergio aside), not a ton of movement, either.
3:18 PM: Garcia makes another bogey, now at four over. Not looking good for Sergio, a past winner at Sawgrass…then again, he won the Masters, so the rest of 2017 is a victory lap.
3:13 PM: Through four holes, McIlroy’s at even, which is fine. Throughout his career, McIlroy has withered on the front while attacking the back. If he can keep it steady through his first nine, expect Rory’s name on the leader board by day’s end.
3:03 PM: Reigning Masters winners have not fared well at Sawgrass, and in the early going, Sergio Garcia appears to keep that trend going. Through five holes, Garcia already has two bogeys and a double.
2:52 PM: For the third time today, I’ve heard a player’s wife referred to as “his beautiful bride.” Are there any ugly brides? Even just average looking?…Yes, hard to believe I went 30 years being single.
2:48 PM: Kevin Kisner was a popular pick coming in, and those that picked him have to be encouraged by his birdie-birdie start. Kisner finished second here in 2015, and with an impressive display at New Orleans, Kisner seems to be firing on all cylinders.
2:36 PM: Much has been made about Dustin Johnson’s poor track record at TPC Sawgrass, but given the zone DJ’s occupied in 2017, we have to throw those past results out, right? Perhaps not: After a bogey at No. 1, Johnson three-jacks No. 2 and sends his tee shot at the third into a bunker. Though he saves par, this doesn’t look like the dominating Dustin we’ve seen as of late.
2:22 PM: Jon Rahm is off to a solid start, one under through his first three holes. First timers have a ghastly track record at the Players Championship. But if anyone can break the paradigm, it’s the young Spaniard.
2:13 PM: Let’s see how Bernd Wiesberger’s day is going…
…in a related note, Wiesberger finished with a three-over 75.
2:07 PM: The super group of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, struggle on No. 1, with McIlroy and DJ making bogey. Call me crazy, but I don’t think KPS Capital Partners is panicking just yet.
1:58 PM: Mentioned below, Noren finishes strong with a birdie on the ninth, walking off with an impressive four under. Noren hasn’t played particularly well on golf’s biggest stages, and he’s no spring chicken at 34. But hey, some people are late bloomers.
1:52 PM: McGirt bogeys the last to finish with a five-under 67. McGirt had two eagles and two bogeys on the back, coupled with a 33 on the front. As he proved at the Masters, McGirt might not have the sexiest game on tour, yet his ability to grind and avoid the big number is an asset that could come in handy this weekend.
1:48 PM: With hot temperatures in Ponte Vedra Beach this week, look for the afternoon rounds to see higher scores, as the greens should dry out. As we hit 2:00 PM on the East Coast, it’s becoming a tad harder to hold approach shots and putts are beginning to run out.
1:39 PM: Phil being Phil: With three bogeys and a double on the card, Mickelson still finishes with a two-under score.
1:36 PM: Alex Noren, who won four times last year, quietly rises up the board, reaching three under on the day. Noren hasn’t found the same success so far in 2017, although that’s clearly not the case on Thursday at Sawgrass.
1:29 PM: Fowler makes birdie on the last, while Day makes an ugly six. Both finish at two under on the day, but given their starts — Fowler four under through seven, Day reaching five — not the number they had in mind.
1:25 PM: Uh-oh. We go make a sandwich and come to find Day making a mess of the ninth, putting his approach in the bunker, his third over the green and his fourth about 10 feet away. Will have a tough putt for 69.
1:10 PM: Day saves bogey at the eighth, entering his final hole at the par-5 ninth. Not the finish Day wanted, but given he hasn’t had a top 10 since February, it’s a commendable Thursday showing.
1:07 PM: Day’s going to drop at least one shot after putting his chip on the par-3 eighth into a bunker. Meanwhile, William McGirt, also at four under, has a very makable eagle putt coming up on the 16th hole to grab sole possession of the lead.
1:05 PM: Not much separation from the early wave, as 22 players are within two shots of the lead. Day
1:00 PM: Holmes grabs the clubhouse lead with a four-under 68, while Cantlay bogeys the 18th for a 69.
12:50 PM: Si Woo Kim, who won the Wyndham Championship at 21 years old, reaches four under on the day. Has been off the radar this year, with just two top 25s in 18 events. Still, when you ask pros who the next big thing is, Kim garners a sizable amount of responses. Through Round 1 at the Players, you’re seeing why.
12:42 PM: The sixth, all of 380 yards, does a number on the entire featured group, as both Day and Stenson bogey while Fowler doubles. Proving there’s no true “easy” hole at Sawgrass.
12:40 PM: The short par-4 sixth is giving Rickie Fowler are sorts of fits. His approach sails way right into the trees, taking a ride on the cart path. His ball was stuck on a piece of wood, taking two shots to get out of jail. His fifth wasn’t necessarily close to the hole, either, leaving a delicate putt to save double.
12:33 PM: We have a J.B. Holmes sighting, as the bomber moves to four under entering the 18th. It’s been a tough season for the Ryder Cupper, entering this tournament ranked 92nd in the FedEx Cup standings. Holmes does have two top 10s in 10 outings at Sawgrass, so perhaps he’s found some magic in Florida.
12:31 PM: Mickelson bounces back from a double at the third with a birdie at the fifth. Still in good shape at two under on his day.
12:27 PM: Poor English’s round is complete, turning in an 84. At +12, he’s last by seven strokes. Here’s hoping the two-time PGA Tour winner can fix whatever is plaguing his game.
12:24 PM: Twenty-one players are currently two under or better in the morning wave, including the 54-year-old Vijay Singh, who continues to play the majority of his golf on the PGA Tour.
12:16 PM: Ouch; Badds puts his tee shot on the par-4 seventh in the drink. He walks off with a triple, dropping to two under on the day.
12:13 PM: We noted Tyrone van Aswegen’s rough start (43) at the beginning of this blog, but props to the South African for not giving up, coming back with a 32 on his final nine.
12:07 PM: Fowler backs up with a bogey on the fourth, now at three under. Doesn’t seem to fazed by it, smoking his drive on the fifth.
11:59 AM: Baddeley moves into a tie for the lead, while Cantlay cards two birds to sit just one back. Meanwhile, Spieth loses his drive on the fourth, and could be heading for another bogey.
11:49 AM: Aaron Baddeley, who missed five cuts in his last eight appearances, is just one back of the lead, four under through 14 holes on the day. If you didn’t bet on Baddeley to be here, well, that’s why there are high-rises in Vegas.
11:40 AM: Day opens on the back (Sawgrass’ front) birdie-birdie to move into the outright lead at five under. Aside from Dustin Johnson, no player’s “A” game has the potency and ceiling like Day’s, making the vexing sport look effortless.
11:30 AM: Fowler faces his first issue of the day, chunking his third shot at the par-5 2nd into a pot bunker. Will need to get creative to walk out with a par…and he does just that, putting his sand shot from 30 yards out within feet of the pin.
11: 28 AM: Two weeks ago Ian Poulter was looking at an uncertain future in America. Thanks to Brian Gay, the Ryder Cup star is at Sawgrass and off to a good start, two under through seven holes. Forget a nice bottle of wine; Poulter owes Gay at least 20 percent of his earnings if he wins this week.
11:23 AM: After Kyle Stanley’s five-birds-in-six-holes start, I was worried the tour might start moving pins mid-shot. (Sorry, still having flashbacks to what happened on Saturday at the ’16 Players Championship. Don’t think we have to worry about Stanley setting any records today, as he just recorded his third bogey in seven holes to drop to three under.
11:16 AM: Got to feel for Harris English, who entered Sawgrass missing three of his past four cuts and on his way to saying sayonara to the weekend here. English shot 41 on his front side and has a triple and double on the back.
11:14 AM: Day drops a putt from wayyyyyy downtown on No. 1 to further crowd the four-under lead. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised; the dude is No. 3 in the world, after all. Still, for a guy who’s battled on and off the course this year, what a start.
11:10 AM: Phil Mickelson makes the turn in two under after a bogey on the 18th. Mickelson, who’s missed his last four cuts at Sawgrass, decided not to play a practice round this week, focusing his work on the range and practice green instead. Through nine holes, it appears the strategy is paying off.
11:00 AM: Patrick Cantlay is two under heading into the easier part of the course. He’s been right there in multiple events this season, and Cantlay certainly as the aptitude to make things interesting this week.
10:51 AM: We’d be remiss in failing to mention Day, who turns in a solid three-under performance on the back nine. For a guy who’s the reigning champ, not much talk on the Aussie’s chances this week. That could quickly change with another strong showing on the front.
10:42 AM: Blayne Barber makes consecutive birds on the 12th and 13th, joining a crowd at four under. In 10 events in 2017, Barber has finished inside the top 30 just once. But the former Walker Cup player has a ton of game, and a good week at Sawgrass could be just what the doctor ordered to get his season back on track.
10:35 AM: Mickelson makes eagle at the 16th to move to three under, one back of the leaders, while Fowler lips out his bird on the 17th.
10:30 AM: Spieth’s eagle bid falls short, but will have a tap-in for bird to get back on track…Looking at the score board, Stanley has two bogeys in his last three holes to drop to four under, while David Lingmerth — winner of the ’15 Memorial — is tied for the lead with a 32 on the back.
FYI, for those wondering about this year’s purse…
10:26 AM: Sticking with the featured group, Fowler puts his shot on the 17th to 10 feet or so, with an uphill putt for birdie. Day hits a beautiful shot but leaves it on top of the slope, while Stenson puts it safely on the green.
10:21 AM: Fowler makes the bird, and heads to the 17th — where he made ace on Wednesday — tied for the lead.
10:18 AM: Fowler has a nice bunker shot on the par-5 16th, while Day will have a meaty — but makable — eagle putt. Fans are definitely getting their share of fireworks in the early going.
10:12 AM: Back-to-back bogeys drop Jordan Spieth to even on the day. Since contending at his first Players go-around in 2014, Spieth has missed the past two cuts. Needs to get back on the birdie train in a hurry.
10:00 AM: Count Hideki Matsuyama among those starting off strong. Since coming out of the gates firing for the ’16-17 season, Matsuyama has struggled as of late, with just one top 20 in his last five starts. However, he’s been one of the few players to enjoy sustained success at Sawgrass with a 70.33 average. If his approach game awakens, circle Hideki as one to watch.
9:51 AM: Though most of the field is going low, Sawgrass is still having its way with a select few. Tyrone van Aswegen makes the turn in 43. On the bright side, he should comfortably break 120, so there’s that.
9:45 AM: There is nothing golf commentators love more than players making par putts over five feet. Judging by the broadcast crew’s tenor, you’d think Rickie Fowler’s seven-footer on the 14th was Justin Leonard’s bomb at Brookline during the ’99 Ryder Cup.
9:38 AM: While most of the field is going low early, it’s worth noting the ageless wonder Bernhard Langer is currently second on the board, heading to the 18th hole (his ninth) at three under. Golf, truly a game for life.
9:30 AM: Billy Hurley III doesn’t tee off until this afternoon, but he’s already won the day thanks to this kick-ass new golf bag:
9:22 AM: Don’t be surprised if you see an ace at the 13th, as the pin is in a very generous, accessible position. Day, Fowler and Stenson put their tee shots within feet, all converting for bird.
9:15 AM: Fowler makes his second birdie in three holes on the 12th. Most guys have mixed results at the Players, a sentiment Fowler epitomizes. He won the event in 2015, with another runner-up finish to boot. In his other five appearances, he has four missed cuts and a T-77. However, he comes in to 2017’s event ranking fourth in strokes gained: approach and his putting — which he struggled with most of 2016 — has been on fire this campaign, ranking sixth in strokes gained on the dance floor, a big reason why he leads the touring in scoring average. Don’t be surprised if he makes some noise this week.
9:06 AM: Big names on the course early in Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson…but through six holes, Kyle Stanley is five under. For the sake of the field, here’s hoping Stanley doesn’t go super low; we don’t want another tour overreaction that leads to a debacle like last Saturday’s 75.8 scoring average.
9:00 AM: Kevin Na went for the green on the new drivable par-4 12th — which today measures around 300 yards — drove behind a set of trees, and withdrew. According to the tour, Na is suffering from illness, and was in the hospital earlier in the week.
8:49 AM: The Players is known as a physical and mental grind; apparently that includes writers, too, as my computer found a fantastic time to display the blue screen of death. Thank God for backups…we’ll be here throughout the day updating you on the first-round action at TPC Sawgrass. Don’t hesitate to interact with us on the Golf Digest Facebook, Instagram or Twitter platforms with your thoughts, observations or questions.