Day 1 of the 2019 Players Championship was as entertaining as ever even with the move from May back to March. Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley lead, but the leaderboard is absolutely loaded with big names and great players.
The Englishman finished second in the field from tee to green and putted well enough to notch seven birdies. Through his first nine holes on the easier side of the course (the back nine), Fleetwood was a pedestrian 1 under. Then he played the front nine of the course in 30 while the field average was over 36. A spectacular close. Bradley was the opposite. He played the back nine of the course in 31 and the front in 34. Together, they shot a best ball 60.
Same old story for McIlroy this season. Elite ball-striking, average to above-average putting, top of leaderboards. Maybe the most notable part of McIlroy's day was a bad break he got on his 18th hole (ninth on the course), where his approach hole high hit a drainage top and caromed beyond the green. He couldn't get up and down for birdie.
Several of the T10s are intriguing as well. That -3 number includes former winners Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar as well as Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm and Haotong Li. With Nos. 1 and 2 playing as two of the easiest holes on the course, any of these guys could leapfrog the ones ahead of them early in the day on Friday.