2016 Players Championship: Thursday Birdies & Bogeys

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2016 Players Championship: Thursday Birdies & Bogeys

May 12, 2016

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Jason Day

A year after missing the cut with a second-round 81, Day improved his score at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course by a remarkable 18 shots. The 63 matched the course record and gave the Aussie a two-shot lead. It was also a statement round by the World No. 1 on a day when the other two members of the Big 3 struggled. -- Alex Myers

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Bogey: Jordan Spieth

In his first appearance since his Masters meltdown, Spieth started strong, reaching his 14th hole in three under par. Alas, a stumble down the stretch -- including a double bogey on his last hole -- left Spieth at even par for the day, miles behind playing partner Jason Day's 63. If the two-time major winner hopes to make the weekend at Ponte Vedra, he'll need to get the flat stick going: He finished Round 1 with an unseemly 1.8 putts per GIR. -- Joel Beall

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Birdie: Ernie Els

The mention of Els' name likely conjures the car-crash spectacle of his first-hole yips at Augusta. But the Big Easy made headlines for better reasons at TPC Sawgrass. Els toured the Stadium Course in just 66 strokes on Thursday, thanks in part to his short game: He had just 11 putts on the front nine. It was Els' lowest score at the Players in 20 years. -- JB

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Bogey: Henrik Stenson

A winner here in 2009, Stenson was a popular pick heading into this week. Instead, his 77 in favorable morning conditions was arguably the day's most shocking round. Incredibly, after missing his first cut in more than two years at the Wells Fargo Championship, Stenson appears headed home early for a second consecutive week. -- AM

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Birdie: Bill Haas

A year ago, Haas came agonizingly close to getting into a playoff at TPC Sawgrass, but it was all positives on Day 1 at the Players as Haas opened with a bogey-free 65 to grab a share of second place. “I had some bad putts that I've thought about since then,” Haas acknowledged after Thursday’s round. Perhaps, he'll be better served the rest of the week thinking about all the putts he made on Thursday. -- AM

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Birdie: Jerry Kelly

Father Time might be undefeated, but Kelly is giving him a run for his money. Months away from PGA Tour Champions eligibility, the 49-year-old Kelly posted a five-under 67 on Thursday. Though he lacks the distance of his peers, Kelly went low in Round 1 thanks to precision with the irons, hitting all but two greens. In 20 starts at the Players, Kelly has only two top 10s, making the odds of him sustaining this success throughout the weekend unlikely. But the fact that he finds himself in such a position is a feat in itself. -- JB

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Bogey: Kevin Kisner

Expectations were high for Kisner entering the week following last year's stunning performance at the Players, where the University of Georgia product lost to Rickie Fowler on the fourth playoff hole. Now, due to a two-over 74, Kisner needs a lights-out Friday just to make the weekend. Although, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised: After four consecutive top 10s to start the season, Kisner hasn't logged a top-20 performance since January. -- JB

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Birdie: Shane Lowry

Lost amid all the low scores was Lowry’s blistering back-nine 29, which broke a tournament record. It’s been quite a month for the Irishman, who followed up a Sunday ace at Augusta National by getting married in New York City. When asked a couple weeks ago about his mood after the wedding, Lowry said it was a 10 out of 10, but added, "A few putts to drop would make it a little better." Who says you can't have your wedding cake and eat it, too? -- AM

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Bogey: Rory McIlroy

When McIlroy made the turn in one over, most people figured he'd really get it going on a back nine that he has historically owned (36 under over the past three years). Not so much. McIlroy made his lone two birdies on his second nine, but only wound up shooting an even-par 72. If anyone can make up this type of ground, though, it's McIlroy. He shot an opening 40 at last week's Wells Fargo Championship and still wound up finishing T-4. -- AM

Bogey: Rickie Fowler

The defending champ had a solid afternoon round going when he reached No. 17, a hole he birdied three times on Sunday during his victory last year. Once again, Fowler hit it tight, but this time, he lipped out the birdie putt. Moments later, his punched approach from the trees on 18 found the water and a closing double bogey left him with a disappointing 72. -- AM

Bogey: No. 17

Golf fans wait all year to see carnage on this famed par 3, but the players were the ones feasting here on Thursday. No. 17 played as the 14th-toughest hole on the day with a 2.844 average thanks in part to an easy front pin and a light wind coming directly from behind the players. There were 37 birdies and just 11 bogeys or worse. Don't worry, everyone, there are still three more days to see more splashes. -- AM

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