Fleetwood and Hoge take early lead in storm-delayed Players

Tommy Fleetwood needed this round. He went more than two years without winning and fell so far down the world rankings that he barely remained in the top 50 at cutoff to qualify For The Players Championship.

Fleetwood and Hoge take early lead in storm-delayed Players

Fleetwood opened the tournament with a 6-under-66 score to share the lead with Tom Hoge, who won the Pebble Beach event. There were two delays and one timely par save.

He now waits. Perhaps until Saturday.

Storms on Thursday and a bad forecast for Friday caused a halt-and-go start to the PGA Tour's top event, which has a purse of $20 million. The opening round was completed by only 66 players. Twelve players didn't hit their first tee shots.

"I have played a full round today. Although I don't know the next round, I'm content. Fleetwood stated, "I'm done." Fleetwood said, "I had a great day. That's all I need. I can be happy with my work, and then go on."

Nine weeks of perfect weather saw the PGA Tour play in nine states, across five time zones. It was the most expensive event in golf with the strongest and most deep field.

Overnight rains of more than an inch delayed the start by one hour. Another delay of over four hours was caused by storms in the region.

Jon Rahm finally got his short-game and putting under control, which took him to a 69. His birdie-par -birdie win was particularly pleasing. He was asked by a person if he could carry that momentum into tomorrow.

He said, "First of all I don't know if I'm going play tomorrow."

Fleetwood, who was a Ryder Cup star at Paris in 2018, but whose last win was in South Africa towards the end of 2019, made a 10-foot birdie putt on par-5's second hole to record his third consecutive birdie.

Hoge shot 31 on the front nine and had an eagle at the par-5 second hole. He joined him in the clubhouse at 65

Keith Mitchell was all set to join the, but his approach to the 18th was right at the flag and landed on a slope of gnarly raw in the mounds. He failed to save par. Joaquin Niemann and Anirban lahiri, the Riviera winner, were at 67.

It's possible that the stop-and-start nature will continue.

Forecasts for Friday showed a slightly lower chance that rain would fall -- 99% instead 100 percent -- and it was possible that those who completed the round might not be able to see the course again until Saturday.

Six players on the early side of this draw didn't finish so they will return Friday at 7:15 AM to play a few holes before the rest of the day.

Ian Poulter can relax, even though it takes a while for his heartbeat to stabilize. The 46-year old could hear the horn sounding to stop play for darkness. Players can complete the hole that any other player has begun by following the rule.

Poulter was at the par-3 17th green, an island green with back pin and soft greens when he hit his shot. It barely missed the cup. Poulter jogged all the route to the green, holed his birdie putt and ran under the bleachers to reach the 18th fairway. As the group in front of him cleared the fairway, he hit his tee shot.

He did it again 11 years ago, and he doesn't seem to have lost one step.

Even though only 66 players completed the round, it was enough time for Stadium Course to offer its fair share of thrills.

Harold Varner III needed good results to remain in the top 50, and to make his win in Saudi Arabia with a trip at the Masters pay off, had a two shot lead when he stepped onto the 17th hole. His shot was sharply down the slope and across the rough, into the water. The same shot was almost taken from the drop zone. He was able to make triple bogey and drop another shot on the 18th.

Varner stated, "Just was between clubs and didn’t execute the shot. That’s what you get out here."

Amazingly, this was the only ball that made it into the water from all 69 tee shots.

Adam Scott knows this well. He was a former Players champion and he pumped two tee shots into water from the 18th hole. On his way to a 78, he took a quadruple double bogey.

Fleetwood was at 6 under through 14 holes, when he made a wild drive into a pine straw to his right on the sixth fairway. This resulted in bogey. Fleetwood was further to his right on the seventh hole, but a great save from behind the green prevented him from losing another shot. Then he made a par-3 birdie of 25 feet on the eighth.

Fleetwood stated, "I'm happy to be in on that score." Fleetwood said, "I felt like my drive was good. I also felt that I putted and chipped well. That was my best round. Days like these are so very, very pleasant."

Long. Wet. It is still quite pleasant.


 

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS