Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

May 08, 2013

Photo By: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

Photo By: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Photo By: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Photo By: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Photo By: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Photo By: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Photo By: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Photo By: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Photo By: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Photo By: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Birdie: Roberto Castro

TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course is known for befuddling the game's best players, no matter how many times they've played it. Maybe the trick is to know as little about the Pete Dye track as possible. In his first competitive round on the course, Castro matched its best score ever with a bogey-free 63 to take a three-shot lead. Even more impressive was his birdie-birdie-birdie run on the course's famous three-hole closing stretch. It's unlikely that the 267th-ranked player in the world, a guy with one career top 10 in two seasons on the PGA Tour, can keep this up. However, it certainly seems a lot more possible after Derek Ernst's win at Quail Hollow last week.

Photo By: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

Birdie: Rory McIlroy

The 24-year-old arrived at the Players having never broken par in his six previous rounds at TPC Sawgrass. But he raced out to an opening-nine 31 and finished with a 66 to put himself at T-2 with Zach Johnson and in great position to play the weekend at this event for the first time. After a disastrous start to 2013, McIlroy has showed signs of returning to the form that took him to No. 1 last year. A win here wouldn't get him back to the top spot, but it would end all the talk that he can't win with Nike clubs.

Photo By: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Birdie: Tiger Woods

TPC Sawgrass has been a house of horrors of late for the world's No. 1 player, but on Thursday he did something he couldn't even accomplish at the height of his powers. For the first time in 16 starts at the Players, Woods broke 70 in the first round and he did it comfortably. A bogey on No. 18 kept him from his first-ever bogey-free round on the Stadium Course, but his 67 matched his best round here since the event moved to May. And he did it all without making one putt of six feet or longer, breaking a tournament record for such a round.

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Bogey: Billy Horschel

The PGA Tour's hottest player cooled off quickly in his first Players appearance. A recent winner in New Orleans, Horschel had two double bogeys on his opening nine holes on his way to a four-over 76. With the course playing so easy on Thursday, it looks like Horschel will have to go really low on Friday if he wants to extend his tour-best cut streak of 23.

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Bogey: Vijay Singh

The big Fijian was the big story on Wednesday when it was announced he was suing the PGA Tour for its proposed 90-day suspension of him for admitting to use deer-antler spray. With that looming over his head, and a fan on No. 1 wearing a pair of deer antlers on his head, Singh went out in 39. Something tells us Tim Finchem wasn't too upset.

Photo By: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Birdie: Scoring conditions

Normally, something in the 60s on Thursday at the Players has a golfer near the top of the leader board. On Thursday, that didn't even guarantee you'd be in the top 15. With TPC Sawgrass still soft from torrential rains over the weekend and a lack of wind, Pete Dye's track didn't show much teeth. Nearly half the field (67 players) broke par and nearly half of those players (33) broke 70, the second-highest total in the past eight years. With not much rain in the forecast the next three days, expect conditions to toughen.

Photo By: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Bogey: Ian Poulter

It's never a good thing when your best shot of the day comes from a drop zone, but that was the case for the Englishman. Poulter was one of the few players to find the water on No. 17, but at least he limited the damage with a third shot to a couple feet. But even that and a closing birdie on No. 18 couldn't keep him from shooting a 75. Hey, at least he played. Last week Poulter traveled to Charlotte before withdrawing before the tournament began due to personal reasons. Some have speculated there were actually 18 reasons, as in Quail Hollow's much-maligned greens. Regardless, it looks like he could have used the extra practice.

Photo By: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Bogey: Erik Compton

A recipient of two heart transplants, Compton's inspirational story has been well documented. That being said, a guy with four top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, including a T-4 at the Honda Classic, shouldn't be dunking two balls in the water on one hole, even if it was the always dangerous 17th. On Thursday, the tee was all the way up and there was virtually no wind in the morning, but Compton made a quadruple bogey on his way to an 80. You can probably expect to see those wet shots a few more times this week in those lovely NBC/Golf Channel 17th hole montages.

Photo By: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Birdie: Adam Scott

A three-under 69 put him a distant third in a group that featured Rory McIlroy and Steve Stricker. Nevertheless, we were impressed as the Aussie showed no Masters hangover in his first start since capturing his first major championship. Sure, he could have made a few more putts, but it's tough to complain about hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 16 greens. The bad news for Scott is that Angel Cabrera's T-14 in 2009 is the best finish by a Masters winner at the Players since the tournament moved to May in 2007.

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Bogey: Scott Stallings

How do you end up as a "bogey" when you shoot a 71? When you start the tournament by birdieing your first five holes. Teeing off in one of Thursday's first groups, Stallings was all the talk early on as he got to five under as quickly as anyone ever has in this event. But then, he, um, stalled. Five straight pars kept him on top of the leader board, but after a back-nine 40, Stallings needed a closing birdie just to stay in red numbers for the day.

Photo By: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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