|Dated: March 11-14 Location: Parcours Stadium, Sawgrass, Florida|
|Blanket: BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra commentary – Saturday: 9:00 p.m. GMT and Sunday: 8:00 p.m. Live text commentary from the last two rounds on the BBC Sport website from 7:00 p.m., with in-game highlights|
Rory McIlroy made a disappointing start in defending his Players’ Championship title as he fell to seven of 79 at TPC Sawgrass.
Starting from the back nine, the Northern Irishman’s first round featured a quadruple bogey eight after hitting the water twice in the 18th.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia holds the club lead early on, with an eagle on his last hole pushing it down to seven under.
Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson are among the late arrivals in Florida.
Rory’s nightmare begins
McIlroy is the reigning champion after winning the Players’ Championship two years ago, with the 2020 tournament being canceled before the second round due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He got off to a bad start when he hung his drive on 10 in the undergrowth and had to take a penalty to get to a double bogey six.
The four-time major champion also had three putts from the 13th par-three before hitting two balls into the water in the 18th, with another three putt resulting in a quadruple bogey eight that left him with seven above par and 10 strokes. out of the head. at the moment.
A nine-foot birdie on the first hole saw McIlroy start to mend some of the damage, and he did another on the second, despite again hitting a bad drive, but the bogeys on the next two holes the reduced to seven.
He recovered a shot in the fifth but another three putt in the ninth saw him sign for a 79, tying the highest opening round of a defending champion established by Sandy Lyle in 1988.
Sergio shines at Sawgrass
McIlroy’s struggles were in stark contrast to his playing partner Garcia.
The 2008 champion made an eagle in the 16th par-five and birdieed in the seventh and eighth before going from 18 feet to a closing eagle to complete a stunning 65 – his lowest opening round in the players’ championship.
Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick is three shots behind Garcia alongside Canadian Corey Conners after securing a first round 68, which included four birdies and an eagle chip-in on par five ninth.
Compatriot Lee Westwood, DeChambeau finalist at Last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, is a shot further back on three under alongside American Tom Hoge.
“I gained a lot of confidence last week, I played well, I made some good par save when I needed it and that’s what you need in this kind of tournament where three under is a good score, ”Westwood said.
“I could see going out this morning that no one was going to burn it down, you were going to play conservatively, smart golf sometimes, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Justin Rose withdrew from the tournament hours before his tee time and was replaced by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker.
The former world number one cited “personal medical reasons” for his withdrawal, despite withdrawing mid-round from the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend due to a back injury.