PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — It seemed the PGA Tour’s middle (and working) class was a reminder of its stars in the opening round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
Message: Hey, we’re not that bad either.
After the tour announced on Tuesday that it would stage eight designated events with limited fields and no cut in 2024, a pile of players ranked outside the top 100 in the world was near the top of the leaderboard at the Tour’s premier event. .
In fact, if it weren’t for Colin Morikawa, Scotty Scheffler and Sam Burns, it might be difficult for anyone other than hardcore golf fans to recognize the players in the top 10.
Chad Ramey, ranked No. 225 in the world, shot an 8-under 64 in the first round on the Stadium Course to take the lead. Canada’s Taylor Penrith, No. 114 in the world, is 3 shots behind, along with Ben Griffin and Justin Suh, who are No. 78 and 102 respectively in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Suh had three holes left to go on Thursday when play was suspended at 6:28 p.m. ET due to darkness.
Two years ago, Griffin was financing residential mortgages as a loan officer at a bank. The former North Carolina star was asked if he could imagine competing in the Players at the time.
what a flop shot @BenGriffinGolf
He moved to T4 after hitting back-to-back birdies @THEPLAYERSChamp, pic.twitter.com/eajEmPF3ry
— PGA Tour (@PGATOUR) March 9, 2023
“No, but I can imagine a homeowner going under contract and having to pay us a loan,” Griffin said. “That’s about it. Two years ago I was almost working a desk job, so playing on the PGA Tour is a dream come true. So lucky to have sponsors that have helped get me back to where I am.” Am.” am. Yeah, it’s great to push like that.”
Some of the biggest names in the game will have to make a big effort to survive the final two rounds on Friday. Reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy and defending US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick each carded a 4-over 76 and were 12 shots behind Rummy. Justin Thomas and Tony Finau each apiece, while Tom Kim, Hideki Matsuyama and Will Zaltoris each apiece.
They are all chasing Remy with 54 holes to play.
“It gives me confidence, and deep down I believe I belong here,” Rami said. “I believe I can beat them. I guess it’s just a matter of proving to everybody that I can.”
battle for number 1
Three players who have been No. 1 on the OWGR for the past month — Jon Rahm, Scotty Scheffler and Rory McIlroy — were put together in a marquee group on Thursday morning, and Scheffler came out on top after 18 holes. He too took some time to leave.
Scheffler, ranked No. 2 in the world behind Rahm, carded a 4-under 68. In his first nine holes of the round, Scheffler made five birdies and one bogey on the front nine, after shooting even par on the back nine. Scheffler hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.
“Ruff was very rough,” Scheffler said. “I think it’s not crazy, crazy long. I’m sure we’ll probably see long stuff at the US Open. It may have been even longer last week, but this week I’d say it’s as healthy as I You’ve got a little bit of Bermuda, and then with Overseed, it’s pretty rough.”
Rahm was also fairly accurate off the tee, hitting nine of 14 fairways, and did a good job of staying out of the rough. But he could get nothing going on the green and posted a 1-under 71. He missed the putt by more than 2 strokes. Rahm said he didn’t give himself too many chances. He lipped a putt on the final hole.
Rahm said, “Well, it felt like a slap in the face on a day that I hit a lot of putts and just kept burning the edges that looked like it was going in.” “It is what it is; it’s golf. The only thing I can say is I made a lot of quality putts out there. All I’m thinking about today are two wedge shots, those About three or four out of there, not only did I hit them close, some of them I missed the green completely.”
McIlroy double bogeyed the 10th and his round never got better. He made two birdies along with four bogeys the rest. He hit only six of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens. McIlroy needed 31 putts and lost by more than 2½ strokes on the greens. He never made a putt longer than 4 feet.
It was McIlroy’s highest opening-round score at an event since posting a 4-over 76 at the 2021 Masters. The four-time major champion has shot a combined 11 over seven rounds at TPC Sagars since winning the 2019 Players.
McIlroy was unsure off the tee. He started using a new driver in the Genesis last month. The driver McIlroy played with last year, which he liked, has been used a lot.
McIlroy said, “These driver’s heads are so finicky, it’s hard to find exactly the same ones.” “Yeah, I mean, I’m obviously trying my best, trying to get something that I had last year. Yeah, struggled a little bit to the T the last few weeks.
“This is as close as it has been. There is also a lot of user error.”
All three begin their second round on the No. 1 hole at 12:56 p.m. ET on Friday (ESPN+).
a Cinderella Story?
If Ramey doesn’t make up for the lost sleep in the days after his wife, Kelly, gave birth to their first child last week, it could be more difficult if he continues to play in Thursday’s opening round.
Remy, ranked No. 174 in FedEx Cup points, shot an 8-under 64 to take the first-round lead. It was the former Mississippi State star’s first start on the stadium course at TPC Sawgrass. In fact, he had never even set foot on the property before Monday. He carded four birdies from both front and back and did not make a single bogey in 18 holes.
“Not easy at all,” Remy said. “Maybe I made it that way but it wasn’t easy at all. It was fun, [the] First time to shoot a score on such a prestigious course. You couldn’t ask for more.”
Rummy’s booming debut was completely unexpected. After winning the Corrales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic in March 2022, he had struggled a lot this season. He’s missed the cut in nine of his last 14 starts, with three straight coming this week.
“The game felt really close,” Ramey said. “I know the score didn’t show it, but it felt really close.”
Playing the iconic par-3 17th hole on Thursday, Remy actually hit his tee shot to almost 2 feet for an easy birdie.
Ramey, 30, said he has been connecting with his wife and newborn son, Nolan, on FaceTime about three or four times a day. He was not spoken to before Thursday’s round.
“Obviously, golf is a lot less important now, and you never know, maybe that’s why I played better today,” said Rumi. “It’s a lot less important now that I have a kid, and I hate that I’m not with her, but happy to be here and at least play well.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, there has been only one player champion since 1987 who was ranked outside the top 100 in the OWGR: Craig Perks (199th) in 2002. The next lowest winner was Si Woo Kim (75th) in 2017.
Remy wasn’t the only first-timer among the players to make some noise on Thursday. Australia’s Min Woo Lee carded a 4-under 68 in his debut on the Stadium Course. Lee, who has won twice on the DP World Tour, is making only his 19th start on the PGA Tour.
Li, ranked No. 50 in the world, was 6 under after 13 holes before posting bogeys on three of his last five holes. He began to cramp his right calf after his tee shot on the 15th hole, and required assistance from a PGA Tour medical official to complete his round. Lee said he believed he was suffering an allergic reaction to electrolytes he had been using earlier in the week, then cramping after discontinuing their use.
“The calf was a random thing, just out of nowhere,” Lee said. “I don’t want to show you my face when it was a few days ago, but it was swollen, and it was bad and very red. It wasn’t ideal. It got to the point where I came here on Sunday.” , and I couldn’t even go outside for the course because my eyes were half closed.”
“Oh my god, I just got cramps.”
Leader Min Woo Lee is playing through a sore back in the first round. pic.twitter.com/EWeofKKz7g
— PGA Tour (@PGATOUR) March 9, 2023
Lee’s older sister, Minjie Lee, is a US Women’s Open winner and two-time major champion.
“With that tees, I will [win], ” Lee said. “But when she plays women and I play men, it’s very close. If we had a sprint, I think I would have won, but he is very consistent. So, I think over 100 rounds, I think she’ll beat me because I can hit it on the side, and she doesn’t hit it from the fairways. Yeah, it’s pretty close, I think.”