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Low scores highlight Day 1 of Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Tiger Woods hit one tee shot that went 190 yards and barely reached the fairway. He hit another shot smack into the middle of a sawgrass plant, the ball only seen by standing over it and suspended a few inches off the ground.

Both times, he scratched out par and wound up with 2-under 70 in the Players Championship.

That's usually not a bad score to start out this tournament. Just not Thursday.

J.B. Holmes and Robert Allenby shared the lead at 66, with 20 players separated by two shots at the top of the leaderboard. Tampa's Ryuji Imada was in a group of eight, one shot back.

Conditions were so benign, and greens were so soft, that more than half the field broke par on the Stadium Course. The 36 players who shot in the 60s were the most for the opening round since 1994, and the average score (71.1) was the lowest in 17 years in the first round.

"I only made three birdies," said Woods, who didn't make a bogey until the final hole when his 5-wood took a hard hop into the water. "I had myself a few chances in there to make some putts, make some birdies, and didn't really do it."

Masters champion Phil Mickelson also shot 70.

"Two under is not what I wanted," Mickelson said. "But there is a round in the mid 60s. If I can shoot that (today), I'll get right back in it."

Holmes played bogey-free.

"It was a fun day, one of those rounds where everything was going pretty good," he said. "It's kind of one of those rounds where it's not easy, but it felt pretty easy."

Allenby played in the afternoon, when the breeze kicked up, and had one lapse with a three-putt on the par-3 eighth.

"Greens were a bit slow out there, definitely quite soft after the rain that we've had the last couple of days," Allenby said. "It definitely made it very accessible, some of those flags. I'm happy with the start, just happy to be amongst it."

Last week at Quail Hollow, Woods had his second-highest round (79) and the worst 36-hole score (153) of his career to miss the cut. Then his practice rounds didn't look much better.

"I've felt like I've done some good work this week, even though reports are I was hitting all over the lot," he said. "It was just a matter of doing it in competition. And I did it (Thursday)."

Greg Owen's venture at the famed No. 17 island green stood out for all the wrong reasons. The Englishman was the only player to hit into the water twice in the opening round. Only seven balls ended up wet Thursday — and Owen had two of them.

His 9-iron came up short and into the water from 124 yards out. He then went to the drop area and chunked his next shot into the lagoon, finally finishing with quadruple-bogey 7. "It's the Players Championship, not a great year, I'm playing nicely and I go and do that," said Owen, who shot 1-over 73. "You want me to be happy?"

NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya walked 18 holes with fellow Colombian sports star and former Gator Camilo Villegas, enjoying the kind of anonymity he never gets at racetracks. "It was a lot of fun," Montoya said. "Out here, I was just another golf fan."

kim to miss u.s. open: Anthony Kim had surgery on his left thumb, which will keep him out of the U.S. Open and possibly the British Open. Kim is expected to be out for 10-12 weeks. He has had a torn ligament the past few months, although the 24-year-old American won the Houston Open, finish third at the Masters and got into weekend contention at Quail Hollow.

Players Championship leaderboard

T1. Robert Allenby -6 66

T1. J.B. Holmes -6 66

T3. Ryuji Imada -5 67

T3. Kenny Perry -5 67

T3. Ryan Moore -5 67

T3. Lee Westwood -5 67

T3. Jason Bohn -5 67

T3. Ben Crane -5 67

T3. Heath Slocum -5 67

T3. Luke Donald -5 67


TV: 1 p.m., Golf Channel

Weather: Mostly sunny, high 89, zero percent chance of rain

Low scores highlight Day 1 of Players Championship 05/06/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 6, 2010 10:56pm]
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