Players Championship 2019: live leaderboard latest and first round updates

William Kent
The Telegraph
McIlroy during his practice round ahead of the first day - Getty Images North America
McIlroy during his practice round ahead of the first day - Getty Images North America


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Rory lets fly 

To the tricky, par-three 13th and Justin Rose misses a chance for his first birdie of the day. Schauffele cleans up for par and he is two-under thru four which is a very nice start indeed. Our leader Thomas drops a shot however - he missed the green right and short-sided himself, attempted a heroic flop shot but missed the resulting putt from a little over seven feet. 

Birdie for Rory at the par-five 11th, expect him to dominate those holes this week, and covers the flag as he goes for the green at the short par-four 12th. His driver pitched about 15 feet from the flag, that's a 317-yard carry, but it hops over the back into a run off area. Still a birdie chance. 


Thomas flying

That's three from three for Justin Thomas, and his odds will be rapidly shortening. His game is well suited to Sawgrass, an stunning iron-player who can get shots to come down with snow on them. 


Contrasting play from the Justins

Scruffy start from Justin Rose, not his usual unerring excellence from tee to green, but he has scrambled for three pars from 10th. 

Justin Thomas has a putt for a third straight birdie, while Charles Howell III is our early leader at three-under. He is one of the most consistent players on tour, but struggles to get across the line. 


Par for Rory at his first

Back-to-back birdies for Thomas, and he has another presentable chance at the 317-yard par four 12th. Xander Schauffele knocks it straight on the dancefloor with just a three-wood. 

Decent roll from just outside 15 feet for Rory, but a tap-in par is an acceptable start. Bogey for Mickelson despite a brilliant bunker shot giving him the chance of a recovery. 


Rory gets started

What a group this is: Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar. 

An absolute horror off the 10th tee from Leftie, shoving a three-wood into the boondocks down the left. Kuchar takes driver and finds the fairway. Just a three wood for the longer McIlroy - skirts with the bunker down the left, but settles in the fairway. Up at the green, Dustin rolls in a birdie at his first. 

In case you're confused, half the field start from the 1st and half from the 10th over the first two days. It helps with pace of play and to get everyone round. The Open Championship in July is one tournament that steadfastly refuses to adopt a two-tee start, which is why the first group is out at 6.30am and the last at 4.30pm. 


Dustin on his way

There is a funny Sawgrass story that does the rounds about Dustin Johnson. Asked whether there was a risk of over-thinking his tee shot on the terrifying 17th, Dustin replied: 'I've never over thought anything in my life, are you kidding me'. 

Not the brightest thing in Christendom is Dustin, but my word is he some athlete who gives it a crunch. Poor record at fiddly stadium course, he might find this year's receptive conditions more to his liking. He has started his round at 10 and has fired an approach in close. 


The early moves

Justin Thomas, a popular selection this week no doubt, is off to a sound start. Birdied the short par-four 10th, his first, and has found the fairway at the gettable par-five 11th with a gentle cut driver straight down the middle. 

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia are also under way and are paired in the same group - two fine ball-strikers who should fare well at Sawgrass. 

The hottest man on the course is Beau Hossler who is, you guess it by the name, American. Three-under thru four for dear old Beau. 

Thomas finds the green at 11 with a fairway wood, so an eagle putt on the way. 


Pleading the Fifth

Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of the Players Championship at the Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, golf's self-styled fifth major and the PGA Tour's flagship event. 

Throw your form and history books out of the window this week however, because the tournament has been moved back from May to March in a re-jigged schedule that sees the USPGA Championship move to the middle of the season. 

It is the first time since 2006 the Players has been held in March, and it completely changes the golf course. The fairways are softer and lush, so it will play much longer than previously - Tiger Woods said earlier this week that he was hitting three-iron into the par-four 18th during his practice round. 

The greens and rough have also been overseeded with rye grass, so that's good news for those players who did not enjoy putting on the grainy Bermuda. 

Sawgrass might be more of a test of driving this year then. In years past it has been known as a second shot golf course where iron-play is all important. 

It is a typical Pete Dye design with fairways that run across the player from the tee, and working out the right angles is all important. The greens are some of the smallest on tour bar Pebble Beach, but if you miss them there can be some devilish lies and stances in the swales and run-off areas that surround them. 

One green you certainly don't want to miss is the island 17th surrounded by water, the course's signature hole though not without its critics. 

The aforementioned Woods returns from a neck strain, and the signs looked good in the practice rounds. Rory McIlroy has been super consistent this season, while Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have fine records round here. 

My long-shot for the week is American Jason Kokrak, who topped the field in strokes gained tee-to-green last week at Bay Hill. He had a Weston-super-mare on the green however, losing four strokes to the field with the putter. If he straightens that out he might go well, and Kokrak is yet to miss a cut this season. 

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