Thursday, May 6, 2010
Holmes, Allenby lead at Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The Players Championship was such a pushover Thursday that more than half the field broke par.
J.B. Holmes and Robert Allenby led the way at 6-under 66, a stroke ahead of eight players, including Lee Westwood of England and 49-year-old Kenny Perry. In muggy conditions with only a swirling breeze late in the day, 36 players broke 70, the most for the opening round of this tournament since 1994.
"It was a fun day, one of those rounds where everything was going pretty good," said Holmes, who played bogey-free and only once came close to making a bogey. "It's kind of one of those rounds where it's not easy, but it felt pretty easy."
Allenby played in the afternoon, when the breeze kicked up, and only had one lapse with a three-putt on the par-3 eighth.
Conditions were perfect for low scoring, and the Stadium Course allows for that with reachable par 5s and a few hole locations in areas that could be attacked.
"Greens were a bit slow out there, definitely quite soft after the rain that we've had the last couple of days," Allenby said. "It definitely made it very accessible, some of those flags. I'm happy with the start, just happy to be amongst it."
It was a big crowd.
Francesco Molinari of Italy had a chance to join the leaders until he chopped up the par-5 ninth hole for a bogey and joined the large group at 68. Those at 69 included Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh, along with Davis Love III, who showed that even a benign Sawgrass still has some bite. He was tied for the lead until making bogeys on the last three holes.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who has a chance to be No. 1 in the world for the first time with a victory and Tiger Woods finishing out of the top five, didn't have his best stuff but still managed a 70.
"Shooting 70 today isn't the round that you want," Mickelson said. "We came out in perfect conditions. There wasn't much wind, the greens were receptive, and there were a lot of low scores. But the reason I think this was a good day for me is I just didn't have it. So tomorrow if I can come out and get hot and shoot something in the mid-60s, I can get back in the tournament."
Perhaps the most telling part of the round was the big numbers -- or lack of them. Greg Owen hit two in the water on the 17th and made a quadruple-bogey 7 that ruined his round of 73, while the highest score was a 78 by Daniel Chopra.