Goydos was not on the short list of players expected to do well at Sawgrass. In nine starts at the Players, Goydos had never shot a round in the 60s and hadn't done much in 2008, his T-25 performance at the Wachovia Championship being his best finish in 12 starts. But Goydos came through Thursday, shooting 68, a round that he said was keyed by a bogey. After hitting his tee ball over the green on 17, he hit his third to 12 feet and made the putt for a 4. "I make the argument that  was the hole that kept me level-headed," Goydos said. "I made bogey after hitting it in the water." After a par on 18, Goydos birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 3, the first of five birdies on his last nine holes. Goydos made a 50-foot, nine-inch putt for the birdie on the third hole, one of seven putts he made from more than 10 feet.
After a first-round 66, that included seven birdies and just one bogey, Garcia, the first-round leader, commented on how well Sawgrass suits his vision, comparing it favorably to Valderrama in his homeland. "[They] have some similar looks, with the treeline and some of the greens [have similar] undulations on them," he said. Garcia is now 17 under par in his last three rounds at the Stadium Course, finishing with scores of 67-66 when he was runner-up to Phil Mickelson a year ago.
The 2004 British Open champ hasn't done much since winning his major, but for one day at least, he found his lost form. Playing in the afternoon, when the wind wreaked havoc on the field, Hamilton shot three-under 69 to end the day tied for fourth, three strokes back of Garcia and one back of Goydos and Kenny Perry. Hammy finished with a flourish, making birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, his last two holes.
Singh began his round with three straight pars, but the tricky par-4 fourth caused him grief. With the pin on the narrow front tongue of the green at the bottom of a small swale in the green, Singh three-putted for bogey. He did birdie two holes on the front, but found real trouble on the back nine, with double bogeys on 14 and 18 for a three-over 75. The Fijian, who lives at Sawgrass and has probably played the Stadium Coure more than any other player in the field, has shot 74 or worse in four of his last six rounds at the Players.
Trevor Immelman and Hunter Mahan
The Masters Champion withdrew before his round; Mahan made it two holes before packing it in. Both suffered from a stomach bug.
Steve Stricker, Geoff Ogilvy, K.J. Choi and Justin Rose
The quartet, all ranked in the top 10 on the World Ranking, went in the tank during the first round. Ogilvy and Stricker played in the morning and shot five-over 77. Ogilvy hit only two fairways on the front nine and needed 33 putts on the day. Stricker, who was T-23 on tour in GIR entering the week, hit just six Thursday despite hitting 10 of 14 fairways. Rose and Choi played in the afternoon, when the wind picked up and made landing the ball on the fast, firm greens an even tougher proposition. Choi made six bogeys and a double on the front nine en route to a seven-over 79. Rose also had trouble on the front, shooting three-over 39. A water ball and resulting double bogey on 17 left him at six-over 78.
When Immelman withdrew, allowing Dustin Johnson into the field, Pavin became the first alternate. But his name was never called, as every other player teed it up on the first day, thus ending Pavin's streak of having appeared in the Players for 24 consecutive years. Davis Love III, who almost didn't make it himself, now has the longest current streak at 23 Players starts in a row. On Monday, Love awoke to find the middle finger on his left hand had swelled to double its size, the result of an infection caused by a splinter that he removed Sunday. Love couldn't bend the finger Monday, but by Thursday was able to get good range of motion. The two-time Players champ shot 73 on Thursday.