Local Sports

Sergio Garcia Rolling at The PLAYERS

Sergio Garcia fired off a 7-under 65, capped off by a birdie-birdie-eagle finish for a two-shot lead over Brian Harman Thursday in The Players Championship from TPC Sawgrass. 


Garcia only had to look next to him to see what kind of damage the Stadium Course inflicted, even on a pristine day of pleasant sunshine and a mild breeze.


Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, opened with a double bogey from the trees. He hit two in the water on the 18th and made a quadruple-bogey 8. He wound up with a 79, his worst score since his opening round at Royal Portrush in the 2019 British Open.


When darkness brought the first round to a halt — 21 players didn’t finish — there already were 13 scores of 80 or higher. That included Henrik Stenson with an 85, his highest score ever on the PGA Tour.


There were 22 scores of triple bogey or worse.


Garcia took eight shots to play his final three holes. Byeong Hun An took 11 shots on the par-3 17th hole.


Harman played in the afternoon and was hanging around par until he began the back nine with three straight birdies, shot 31 on the back and wound up with a 67.


British Open champion Shane Lowry took bogey on his final hole for a 68 and was tied with Corey Conners and Matt Fitzpatrick. Bryson DeChambeau, coming off his victory last week at Bay Hill, had to take a little off his driver on the par-5 16th and had 9-iron left, setting up a birdie-birdie-par finish to join the group at 69.


Rickie Fowler had three double bogeys in his round of 77, leaving him in danger of missing the cut and likely missing out on the Dell Match Play in two weeks.


Dustin Johnson took double bogey on the par-5 11th and eagle on the par-5 16th in his round of 73. Jordan Spieth missed only two fairways and had to settle for a 70.

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