2024 Players Championship: A Players first, two water balls and a 65 for Rory McIlroy in Round 1

2024 Players Championship: A Players first, two water balls and a 65 for Rory McIlroy in Round 1

Rory McIlroy got off to a great start Thursday at TPC Sawgrass.

In fact, through the first three holes of the his opening round, McIlroy had done something he’s never done before in 13 prior Players Championship starts, as noted by stats guru Justin Ray:

Shooting 3 under with three birdies.

McIlroy kicked things off at the par-4 10th hole, sticking his approach shot to 5 feet and making the putt.

He then hit the green in two at the par-5 11th and two-putted for another birdie, this time from 60 feet. His third birdie, at the short par-4 12th, came from 5 feet again after McIlroy left himself just 64 yards for his approach into that hole.

McIlroy drained a 15-footer at the par-4 14th to take the outright lead at 4 under.

And at the par-5 16th, he hit his second three-shotter in just two swings. A two-putt from 26 feet pushed him to 5 under, and a hole later, at the par-3 17th, McIlroy stuck his tee shot to 6 feet at the island hole and rolled in a sixth birdie putt of the front nine.

Unfortunately, McIlroy couldn't finish strong. He rinsed his tee shot at the par-4 18th and made bogey after dropping 293 yards from the hole.

McIlroy still turned in 5-under 31 and didn’t let the lost shot on 18 deter his round. He birdied Nos. 2 and 4, before adding this one at the par-4 sixth to reach 8 under par for the tournament.

Once again, however, McIlroy found water off the tee, this time at the par-4 seventh. After a lengthy discussion with playing competitors Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland as to where the ball crossed land, McIlroy eventually dropped and then dropped two shots with a double.

Now trailing leader Xander Schauffele by one, McIlroy tied the clubhouse lead by making birdie on the par-5 ninth for a 7-under 65.