Players 2020 Live Blog: Complete minute-by-minute updates from Day 1 at TPC Sawgrass
In these uncertain times, just hours after the NBA suspended its season, the NCAA banned fans from March Madness games and other major sporting events cancelled events in response to the coronavirus, the PGA Tour is forging on with its flagship event. (Players 2020: Scroll down for the latest updates)
The PGA Tour released a statement after midnight (eastern time) on the eve of the Players, just hours before play was scheduled to tee off, saying it would continue to monitor the situation and give another update around Noon on Thursday.
The Players is the tour's flagship event, and with the organization taking some preemptive measures before the tournament, the PGA Tour felt it was safe to conduct its tournament with fans present, unlike most all NCAA conference basketball tournaments happening Thursday, which will happen without any crowds. The tour is giving fans an option to request a refund instead of attending the event if they chose. Golf, of course, is an outdoor sport and slightly different, but nonetheless it was a surprise to some that the tour is playing today with fans. Here is the statement from the tour:
“The PGA Tour is aware of rapidly changing developments regarding COVID-19. With the information currently available, The Players Championship will continue as scheduled, although we will absolutely continue to review recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and local health administrations. This is obviously a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication and transparency, and we are dedicated to all three aspects.”
The latest: The tour announced it will proceed with playing its events for the next couple of weeks, but it won't permit fans on-site. Here's the full story, reporting from on-site.
7:40 p.m.: Play has officially been suspended with just a few groups needing to finish. And they'll finish tomorrow without any fans on the course.
6:52 p.m.: Si-Woo Kim closes with a birdie, a nice up and down from the greenside bunker at No. 9, to get to 7-under, which is two back of the lead of Hideki Matsuyama. This is a strong leaderboard heading into tomorrow, where we do have confirmation that we'll have tournament play, but no fans, which was announced officially around Noon by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
This is uncharted territory, of course, but the PGA Tour is one of the few sports leagues still conducting competition, so in that way, let's consider ourselves fortunate we have some golf to watch this weekend. It will be a welcome sign with all the craziness of the coronavirus.
6:50 p.m.: Rory! Wow ... we've seen few players over the year birdie all three closing holes. But that's exactly what he just did to salvage a round that had been disappointing for the majority of it. Rory rolled in a seven-footer to get to even-par on his round. And Brooks Koepka rolls in his birdie to get to 2-under for his round. Jon Rahm finishes at 3-under with a closing par ... all in all, when all three guys were over par at one point, those were huge momentum shifters to end each of their rounds.
6:46 p.m.: Well, we have some positive momentum for the marquee group as they finish their rounds. Rory's coming off the two birdies in a row and hit a bomb, carrying it 310 yards over the water on 18. And Brooks Koepka hit a good one, and he's just stuck it to about six feet for a closing birdie. That'd get him to 2-under. But more importantly for him, he's making better swings and his body language is way better. Seems like he's regaining some of that confidence we've seen from Brooks over the past couple years.
6:38 p.m.: Jim Furyk is making an unnecessary mess of the par-5 16th hole. Jimbo had some positive momentum going at the end of his round, but having layed up in a bad spot in front of the tree, Furyk actually hit the tree with his wedge shot third shot. Ouch. His par putt from the front of the green comes up short, so a bogey will bring him back to 1-under heading to 17.
6:34 p.m.: Rory McIlroy's making a little run to end his day after struggling the entirety of Thursday. Rory has birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 to move to 1-over for the round as he heads into 18. That'll do him wonders as he tries to position himself for a run to get back in the mix.
His playing partners have struggled at times on Thursday but they've also salvaged the day a bit. Koepka birdied 16 to get to red figures. He's at 1-under through 17. And Jon Rahm also birdied 16 to get to 3-under as the trio head to the 18th tee.
6:30 p.m.: That's a sporty par for Si-Woo Kim at the par-4 eighth hole (his 17th of the day). He was faced with a tricky little 40-yard bunker shot, but hit a nice out to about 9 feet and then made the putt -- to stay at 6-under par as he heads to the par-5 ninth hole, his finishing hole.
6:23 p.m.: This is a bit of a wild fact ... these next hour or so will be the last time fans will be watching live golf for the next month or so.
6:15 p.m.: What a debut for THE KIDS. Matthew Wolff stumbled on 18, but he's still right in the mix heading into Friday (-3). And Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa are in at 4-under, and to be honest, it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that these three played so well on Day 1. These kids have had almost six months worth of PGA Tour experience at this point, and they've all won at this point. It's exciting to think about what they might do at these big events going through the rest of 2020, and heck, their whole damn careers. So much fun to watch.
6:07 p.m.: The young guns have made the 18th hole entertaining. Viktor Hovland NEARLY found the water with his drive, but he had just the right amount of carry to cut the corner. Matthew Wolff went wayward off a cart path on the right side, and Collin Morikawa found the pine straw.
Wolff had to punch out; Morikawa's chop out from the pine straw came up way short, but his third shot is a beauty to about 4 feet. Hovland has a birdie look of about 35 feet for a closing birdie. They're all at 4-under for the tournament at current.
6:01 p.m.: Si-Woo Kim drops back to 5-under with a bogey at the sixth hole. That's still the best round on the course for the 2017 Players champion. Si-Woo really hasn't done anything all year -- his only made cut since the Mayakoba is a T-37 at the Genesis. But Si-Woo obviously feels comfortable around TPC Sawgrass and shorter Pete Dye courses in general, as he's also won the Wyndham in the past.
Rafa Cabrera Bello joins Si-Woo at 5-under with a birdie at the par-5 second, his 11th hole of the day. They're both on the same number as Marc Leishman and Patrick Cantlay, four back of the Hideki Matsuyama lead.
5:51 p.m.: The young-gun crew of Collin Morikawa (-4), Viktor Hovland (-3) and Matthew Wolff (-3) are at 17, and they all hit great shots. Hovland is the best of the crew, hitting it about hole-high right. He'll have just outside a tap-in for a birdie. Wolff has about nine feet and Morikawa has 20 feet for his birdie. It's easy to think about the future of golf and the possibilities of these guys' careers while watching them play the island green for the first time in Players competition.
Wolff rolls his eight-footer in for birdie and Hovland taps in, so the entire crew heads to the 18th hole at 4-under in their first time around TPC Sawgrass. It's an easy game!
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy doubles No. 15 to move to 3-over. It's still early, but that's dangerous territory to make the cut here in his title defense. Couple that his playing competitors -- Rahm at 2-under and Koepka at even, and the group of Hovland, Wolff and Morikawa are 11 shots better than the World Nos. 1, 2 and 3. That's a wild stat!
5:33 p.m.: Remember when Jim Furyk nearly won this thing last year at age 48? Well, now at age 49 (and turning 50 in two months), the veteran has moved to three under with three consecutive birdies to begin the back nine. This guy is going to dominate on the senior tour.
5:28 p.m.: A little life from Rory McIlroy as he rolls in a 10-footer for birdie on No. 13. That moves him to one over on the day, just one shot back of playing partner Brooks Koepka. Jon Rahm leads what has been a lackluster marquee group thus far at two under.
5:15 p.m.: Let's take a quick rundown of the leader board. Hideki Matsuyama still leads after that brilliant 63 in the morning, but someone could catch him. Just kidding. No one is going to catch him today.
4:58 p.m.: Matt Kuchar has been enjoying a solid day at two under but just sprayed his approach into short right into the par-3 13th's bunker. Going to be a. tough up-and-down from there.
4:48 p.m.: Hovland, Morikawa and Wolff are a combined six under in the past two holes, in case you were wondering how they're doing. On the opposite end, Koepka can't get things going, still one over through 10, while Rory is a two over.
4:40 p.m.: Si Woo Kim makes the turn in four under, tied for best score of the afternoon wave with Matt Jones and Peter Malanati.
4:24 p.m.: Hello Hovland! Viktor drops a 70-foot putt for eagle, erasing a bogey at the 10th and moving him to three under. The Oklahoma State product just won in Puerto Rico two weeks back, wouldn't a high Players finish be something.
4:10 p.m.: Rory's chip at the par-5 ninth scoots across the green and into the bunker. From the beach, McIlroy makes a nifty shot, but will have six feet for a. two-over 38.
4:00 p.m.: The young-gun triumvirate of Hovland, Wolff and Morikawa are hanging tough through their first nine at Sawgrass. Hovland and Morikawa are two under while Wolff is even.
3:45 p.m.: TPC Sawgrass is angry this afternoon, my friends. Matt Jones is the only player making a push (four under through 11) the rest of the field stuck in neutral.
3:25 p.m.: Jon Rahm is keeping steady, even par for his round. Si Woo Kim is also off to a hot start, three under through five.
3:19 p.m.: A spark for Rory, who trains a 30-footer on the sixth for his first birdie of the day. And after following to two over, Koepka gets one back with a birdie at the sixth as well.
3:15 p.m.: For what it's worth, the crowds do appear to be thinning on television, at least at the 17th. Part of that could be the coronavirus updates, some of it chalked to Rory and Brooks on the front.
3:03 p.m.: McIlroy converts a shaky six-footer to save par. Not a lot of low rounds at the moment—Matt Jones is three under through eight—but Sawgrass is starting to bark back.
2:55 p.m.: Rory McIlroy is off to a slow start, one over through four holes, and though his approach finds the green at the fifth, he's going to have a long way home for a two-putt par.
2:49 p.m.: Jon Rahm rolls in a birdie at the par-4 fourth hole after hitting an excellent approach shot from the fairway bunker to get back to even par. Brooks Koepka hit an even better approach, and got a bit of a read from Rahm's putt, but misses his birdie bid. Koepka has looked off early in his round, and he remains at 1-over. That's the same number as Rory McIlroy. They're 10 back of Hideki Matsuyama as it stands now.
2:46 p.m.: We're seeing most of the low rounds thus far coming from the morning wave, but there are some hot starts to players' rounds in the afternoon wave. The lowest so far is the young stud Viktor Hovland, who won the Puerto Rico Open a few weeks ago. Hovland is 3-under through his first 5 holes. Martin Laird (through 6 holes) and Matt Jones (through 7 holes) are also on that number. There are a host of players at 2-under from the afternoon wave, but other than that, it's playing a little more difficult now.
2:29 p.m.: Christiaan Bezuidenhout puts together the second-best round of the morning wave, getting up and down at the 18th hole to card a 7-under 65 to open his first Players Championship. The South African has sneakily put together one of the most consistent past couple of months; winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the European Challenge Tour; and popping at the Arnold Palmer (finishing T-18) and Mexico (T-29) the past couple weeks. The 25-year-old could very well play himself into the Masters with a strong week this week; as he's currently 48th in the world, and the top 50 in the world at the end of the month will punch a ticket to Augusta.
Harris English is also in the clubhouse with a 7-under 65 to open his Players. In his 21st start at TPC Sawgrass, English has shot in the 60s for just the second time. English has been consistent this season, and he's backing that up with a great start at the TPC.
2:25 p.m.: Our marquee group is making a mess of things early on on Thursday. Brooks Koepka just missed a five-footer for par at the par-5 second to move to 1-over. And Jon Rahm got in trouble at the par 5, as a recovery shot for his third at the second hit a tree and came back to him. That also led to a bogey 6. Rory parred No. 2, but he's also 1-over following his bogey at No. 1.
2:16 p.m.: Harris English! En fuego! The former Georgia Bulldog just holed a 35-footer on the par-3 eighth hole to move to 7-under par through 17 holes. That's tied with Bezuidenhout for the best round on the course, two shy of Hideki Matsuyama's 9-under 63.
English's success is further evidence that TPC Sawgrass is such a tough tournament to predict. English had missed the cut here in each of his past six appearances, and boasts only one round in the 60s in 20 rounds at TPC Sawgrass. Yet he's near the top of the leaderboard here on Thursday.
2:09 p.m.: Christiaan Bezuidenhout with a strong par save at 17, going from nearly splashing his tee shot to escaping with a par. The South African keeps that stellar 7-under round going to the difficult home hole.
2:04 p.m.: Rory misses a 7-footer for par to drop a shot on his opening hole (No. 1) to start his title defense at TPC Sawgrass. As you've probably heard in the run-up to the championship, nobody has ever successfully defended their title at the Players, which is a bit of an oddity. Rory just made that possibility a bit harder with that opener.
2:01 p.m.: Wow! South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, with the best round on the course right now, is playing the 17th hole for the first time in competition. And he just had a memorable initiation.
His tee shot kept drawing and soared over the green, nearing bouncing into the water. But it ended up on the walkway up to the green. He'll have an interesting play through the fringe upcoming to maintain this great 7-under round.
1:53 p.m.: The marquee group of the afternoon is officially on the course, with the Worlds No. 1, 2 and 3 players teeing off in their first round. They all have missed the fairway, with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka missing the fairway to the left, and Jon Rahm overcutting his tee ball and missing to the right.
They know some low scores are possible after Hideki Matsuyama's 9-under round this morning, which tied the course record at TPC Sawgrass.
1:40 p.m.: Christiaan Bezuidenhout birdies the 14th to move to seven under, a puncher's chance to tie Matsuyama's mark. Bezuidenhout has a win and runner-up in his last five starts, and a nice showing at the API last week.
1:32 p.m.: Another name in the mix is Keith Mitchell. Last year's Honda Classic winner is five under and sticks his approach on the sixth.
1:20 p.m.: Hideki eagles his final hole, the par-5 ninth, to tie the course record with a nine-under 63. Amazingly, he did it leading the field in strokes gained/putting (4.251).
1:11 p.m.: Cam Champ only pars the very birdie-able par-5 16th, but heads into the final two holes at five under. Champ has struggled since his win in the fall, good to see him right the ship.
1:00 p.m.: Harris English has never made a cut in his Players Championship career. He, of course, is now six under through 11 holes.
12:53 p.m.: Dustin Johnson just misses a birdie at the seventh, but remains two under for the day. DJ has historically struggled at this tournament, so an auspicious start for the former World No. 1.
12:48 p.m.: Hello Webb Simpson. Using a hot putter (1.8 strokes gained thus far on the greens) Simpson has moved to four under, just two back of the lead.
12:44 p.m.: Hideki adds another birdie the sixth (his 15th), moving to six under. Matsuyama has been in the wilderness for the past year, great to see him back in the mix.
12:41 p.m.: Also on the struggle bus: Rickie Fowler. The former Players champ is four over on his round, as is Jordan Spieth. Fowler's struggled to keep his ball in the fairway thus far.
12:37 p.m.: Phil Mickelson's poor showing as of late at TPC Sawgrass continues. Mickelson has five bogeys on the day and is near the bottom of the board at three over.
12:26 p.m.: Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Cantlay are tied at five under, but they are joined by some interesting names at the top of the leader board: Rory Sabbatini, Jim Herman, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Cam Champ. Currently 12 guys within a shot of the lead.
12:10 p.m.: Francesco Molinari, who was questionable to play after withdrawing from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational where he was the defending champ, decided to tee it up. He may be regretting that decision after 10 holes. The 2018 British Open champ with a sneaky-good track record at TPC Sawgrass is now four over. Only two players currently on the course have a worse score.
11:55 a.m.: PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan makes it official: no fans will be allowed at the Players for the duration of the tournament. However, after speaking with President Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, the event will go on as scheduled as will future PGA Tour events. At least, for now. However, no fans will be permitted at next week's Valspar Championship, the WGC-Match Play Championship, and the Valero Texas Open ahead of next month's Masters. The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, an opposite-field event the week of the WGC-Match Play, has been postponed. Here is his entire statement:
Let me preface my remarks by reinforcing that the health and safety of our players, employees, partners, volunteers, fans and everybody associated with the PGA TOUR is our top priority.
I’ve spoken to President Trump this morning, and I spoke to Governor Ron DeSantis a few hours ago as well. Our team is in constant communication with local health authorities in each market in which our tournaments are played, and we are tracking and monitoring the health information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in addition to the travel advisories provided by the U.S. State Department. Both the White House and the Governor’s office have been and are supportive of the precautionary measures we have taken to this point.
It goes without saying that this is an incredibly fluid and dynamic situation. We have been and are committed to being responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process.
With that as pretext, at this point in time, PGA TOUR events – across all Tours – will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans. This policy starts at THE PLAYERS Championship tomorrow (Friday) and continues through the Valero Texas Open. It’s important to note, that could change, but for the time being, this decision allows the PGA TOUR, our fans and constituents to plan, prepare and respond as events develop.
Further, the recently announced travel advisories and potential logistical issues associated with players and staff traveling internationally limit our ability to successfully stage the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Therefore, we are going to postpone that event and will provide details in the coming weeks on a reschedule as this situation develops.
We will continue THE PLAYERS with essential personnel only, and we will be in direct conversations with those groups (vendors, broadcasters, media, player support groups, essential volunteers) to provide instructions.
This is a difficult situation, one with consequences that impact our players, fans and the communities in which we play. As I said earlier this week, we’ve had a team in place that has been carefully monitoring and assessing the situation and its implications for several weeks. We’ve weighed all the options, and I appreciate the input and collaboration across the TOUR, our industry, our partners and our members that got us to this point. We’ll continue with that collaboration, and I want to thank our fans for supporting the PGA TOUR.
11:30 a.m.: Fans were allowed on the ground Thursday at TPC Sawgrass, but it looks like that won't be the case for the rest of the tournament. The AP's Doug Ferguson is reporting the Players will go on without fans in attendance the next three days and the PGA Tour will keep this policy in place for the foreseeable future.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is expected to make an official announcement at noon.
11:15 a.m.: Finally, a little life from that Fowler-Thomas-Spieth pairing as they make the turn. Thomas chipped in for eagle on No. 16 to jump back to one over:
Fowler rolled in a 10-footer for birdie on 18 to get back to even. And Spieth, well, he's still struggling. The three-time major champ made the turn at three over.
11:03 a.m.: The Bay Hill bump continues at TPC Sawgrass. Marc Leishman, coming off a solo second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is four under through seven holes. He's currently tied for the lead with Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler, Keith Mithchell, and Rory Sabbatini. Just like everyone predicted!
10:47 a.m.: Scottie Scheffler is human. The rookie made his first bogey of the day on No. 1 to fall back to four under. He's currently tied with Bryson DeChambeau, who just completed a back-nine 32. The pair are one shot ahead of a big group at three under. For full scores, click here.
10:33 a.m.: Scottie Scheffler birdies the 18th hole to make the turn at five under and and re-take the early lead. Not bad for his first official go-round this treacherous Pete Dye track.
10:20 a.m.: Bryson DeChambeau birdies the 17th hole to move to four under and join Scottie Scheffler at four under. Hideki Matsuyama made his first bogey of the week on the par-5 16th to fall back to three under.
10:15 a.m.: Justin Thomas, one of the favorites to win this week, is off to a brutal start. After a bogey on the easy 12th hole, he just made double bogey on No. 14 to drop to three over.
10:03 a.m.: What a week it's been so far for the player-caddie combo of J.T. Poston and Aaron Flener. On Wednesday, Flener won the caddie closest-to-the-pin competition on 17 with a shot inside three feet:
And on Thursday, Flener's boss did this early in his first round:
Flener also survived quite a fast-food feast earlier in the week. Maybe all-you-can-eat chili dogs for $7.99 wasn't as bad of an idea as we thought. . .
9:50 a.m.: The star-studded group of Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth had a tough go on the short par-4 12th. Fowler went right and made double, Thomas got wet left and made bogey and Spieth drove the green—and three-putted for par. Rough.
9:35 a.m.: It's EARLY, but let's do a quick rundown of the leader board at TPC Sawgrass, where Hideki Matsuyama is on top after birdieing his first four holes:
9:30 a.m.: Phil Mickelson bounces back from a bogey on No. 11 with a birdie on the short par-4 12th. Dustin Johnson also birdies the hole to get into red numbers while Webb Simpson pars to remain at one under.
9:19 a.m.: Two guys coming off great weeks at Bay Hill, Bryson DeChambeau and Sungjae Im, have kept it going early in their Thursday rounds. Both are two under thru three holes. Im is arguably the world's hottest player, backing up his first PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic two weeks ago with a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. Guess we should get used to this soon-to-be 22-year-old living on leader boards.
9:13 a.m.: Phil Mickelson makes an early splash, literally, on the par-5 11th with his second shot. It leads to a bogey as he drops to one over. Playing partners Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson both make par to remain at even.
9:07 a.m.: Scottie Scheffler makes a third consecutive birdie to take the early lead at three under. The PGA Tour rookie already has four top-seven finishes in 13 starts this season. And as he told the Golf Digest Podcast recently, he's still an equipment free agent so this week could prove to be quite a lucrative audition.
9:01 a.m.: One of the featured groups—Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler—all begin their weeks with par on No. 10. Incredibly, Spieth is still in search of his first win since the 2017 Open Championship. "I'm just trying to reverse a year and a half of kind of bad reps," he said on Wednesday.
8:54 a.m.: This from the Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner ... though the tour is allowing fans in to watch The Players this morning, they are taking some precautions, just not on the level of other sports.
8:49 a.m.: The group of Woodland, Bryson and Sungjae with some sporty birdies! Gary Woodland gets to 1-under after a nice up-and-down from the front righthand bunkers; Sungjae also gets up and down, from the left-hand side, for his birdie, making a putt of about 13 feet. And Bryson had a great look for eagle but just missed, so they're all at 1-under through their first two holes.
8:46 a.m.: We're told via our Brian Wacker that there will be an update from the tour before Noon. We will update here once we know what that means, but restricting fans from entering TPC Sawgrass would make sense, given the moves by other major sports events.
8:40 a.m.: An advantage to all these feeds of every player is now we'll be able to tell who the slowest players on the PGA Tour are, for real. It seemed like the group of Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland and Sungjae Im were in the fairway at the par-5 11th hole forever (they could've been waiting for the green to clear ahead ... without commentary with every group, it's tough to pinpoint exactly why). But it was worth the wait to see Bryson hit a fairway wood from 270 yards to about 11 feet, setting up an early eagle putt for the Mad Scientist.
8:31 a.m.: One of the marquee pairings of the morning -- Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama -- just teed off on 10, and they all have good birdie looks on the first hole of the outward nine.
Hideki probably has the best look, about 8 feet below the hole, but Reed is also about 6 feet away, but above the hole with a little break perhaps. Cantlay has about 10 feet. Hideki and Cantlay, both beneath the hole, rolled in their birdie putts, but Reed missed his putt on the low side.
Rory Sabbatini is the first player to 2-under, as he rolled in a long 26-footer at the par-4 fourth hole for his second birdie of the day.
Joining Cantlay and Matsuyama at 1-under are: Michael Thompson (-1 through 2); Brian Gay (-1 under 2*); Jimmy Walker (-1 through 1); Scottie Scheffler (-1 through 2*) Check out the leaderboard on PGATour.com here for the latest scores.
8:22 a.m.: Brian Harman gives back a shot, following his birdie at the second hole with a bogey at the par-3 third. His tee shot ended up left of the green just in front of the half-moat bunker, leaving him an awkward angle. His chip went 27 feet past the hole, and he two-putted from there for a 4. Sabbatini parred No. 3 to remain in a share of the lead with Brian Gay.
Other bigger names now on the course include Sungjae Im, Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler. Those three are all off with pars on No. 10.
8:09 a.m.: We were able to watch our birdies of the day thanks to the tour broadcasting every shot. Brian Gay hit his approach on the 10th hole to 10 feet, then rolled in the putt. He held the lead by himself for a few minutes, until Rory Sabbatini and Brian Harman each rolled in short birdie putts on the par-5 second hole to get to 1-under.
This is a time where having multiple devices if key -- following all these groups is now possible, with each group having its own feed. You just need to toggle back and forth smartly to cover each shot. Or, throw each group on a different device, if you have that luxury.
7:42 a.m.: Off split tees, we were able to watch all the shots from the opening holes live as they happened, thanks to PGA Tour Live/NBC Sports Gold showing every shot from every player for the first time in history. Brian Harman, Rory Sabbatini and Sepp Straka were first off No. 1; and Russell Henley, J.J. Spaun and Denny McCarthy teed off on the 10th hole at TPC Sawgrass. We were able to see Spaun punching out from a tree to the right of the hole, as well as Henley going wayward to the left off the tee. Henley was able to avoid trouble; Spaun was not. He was the lone golfer out of the opening six players to bogey his opening hole. The feed was useful -- it didn't miss a shot from any of the opening groups.
And so we're officially underway at the 2020 Players Championship.