And that's a wrap for today.
2022 Players Championship leaderboard, scores: Weather-delayed first day ends with minimal fanfare
The Players Championship hardly got underway as inclement weather took over TPC Sawgrass on Thursday
Round 1 of the 2022 Players Championships was upended by two separate rain delays totaling five hours on Thursday. That turned TPC Sawgrass into a point-and-shoot track miles from the fast and firm conditions that normally make it famous this time of year.
Golfers took advantage as the scoring average dipped to 71 flat, and even though half the field has yet to finish their rounds, there are already a pair of 66s atop of the leaderboard. Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge co-lead at 6 under with four players just behind them at 5 under after Day 1.
Friday is going to be another odd affair. Golfers like Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa -- all on the third hole -- will likely be playing all day as they try to get their next 33 holes in before sundown. Fleetwood, Hoge and others who finished Thursday evening will either barely get any of their second round in or perhaps have the day completely off before starting Round 2 on Saturday.
More inclement weather is expected, too, with thunderstorms expected throughout on Friday and heavy wind set to follow Saturday. The goal, as always, will be to try and finish by Sunday evening, but a messy first day and a second that doesn't look much clearer could make that impossible.
Let's take a look at the Round 1 leaderboard and try to make sense of what we saw and what could happen from here until the finish.
T1. Tom Hoge, Tommy Fleetwood (-6): Fleetwood was brilliant on and around the greens and drove it great, but he wasn't even in the top 100 in approach shots, which is going to be a problem at a place like TPC Sawgrass if the wind is howling. "It's a great first day," said Fleetwood. "I'm chuffed to be in on that score. I felt like I drove the ball well aside from a couple, and I felt like I chipped and putted great. For sure, like that was the most I could have got out of the round."
On the other hand, Hoge led the field from tee to green. He was a nice little sleeper pick coming into the week considering his history here (two top 30s in his last two starts) and his win earlier in 2022 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. The only blemish on his card was a three-putt on the 17th hole. And while he probably doesn't have the firepower to hang with most of this field when it comes to winning -- Morikawa is about to be 2 under thru three holes early on Friday, which is a problem -- he still has a great chance to hang in and post a top 10 or even get himself into contention on Sunday.
T3. Kramer Hickok, Joaquin Niemann, Keith Mitchell, Anirban Lahiri (-5): This is a great track for Niemann, and he was positive in strokes gained in every category on Thursday. He will absolutely thrive if it gets into a flighting contest on Saturday with heavier winds. If his short game continues to show up, he could have two wins at the two biggest events of 2022 so far (TPC Sawgrass and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club).
T7. Brian Harman, Sam Burns, Abraham Ancer, Taylor Pendrith (-4): Harman has a T8 and a T3 here in the last two years and always seems to be in the mix at this tournament. He was not impressive off the tee on Thursday (not unusual), but after playing his first five holes in 2 over, he closed by playing the next 13 in 6 under to burst onto the leaderboard. Burns and Ancer were both top 10 in approach shots on Thursday if you're looking for some sustainability.
T11. Jon Rahm, Harold Varner III, Will Zalatoris, Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith and three others (-3): There are some horses in this group. Zalatoris hit the ball so well (third in approach and fourth from tee to green) but again struggled with the putter. He also got in some trouble at the last and made double there or he could have scared the lead by the end of the day. His ball-striking magic combined with his putting misery make him must-see TV the rest of the week. Rahm looked uncomfortable all day and did not hit the ball particularly well. However, after returning to his old Odyssey putter, he was awesome on the greens and cobbled a round together when it looked like he didn't have much in the tank. According to Caesars Sportsbook, only Morikawa has shorter odds going into Friday's action.
T19. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Justin Rose (-2): These guys are all worth mentioning because none of them have played more than four holes. D.J. and Koepka are both 2 under after three holes and have a ton of golf in front of them on Friday. If conditions are as soft and easy on Friday as they were on Thursday, it wouldn't be surprising to see either of them at a 9- or 10-under lead on Friday evening.
T40. Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa (-1): As noted earlier, Moriakwa is about to be 2 under if he makes a short birdie putt on the third hole on Friday morning. Scheffler, too, is early in his first round. Hovland was around the lead all day on Thursday before fading late with a pair of 6s in his last four holes. He hit the ball so well and got nothing out of it because his short game didn't cooperate.
This has turned into a delightful day of golf with superstars teeing off in primetime after a day full of great golf. We'll only get to see them for two holes, but still a fun way to end the day. Also, Ian Poulter just ran from the 17th tee to the green, putted his ball and ran to the 18th tee so his entire group could get their last hole in.
Rory is paying tribute to Tiger Woods today.
Here's a look.
Fleetwood in the house with a 6-under 66. Beware, though. He chipped and putted it quite well and didn't hit his irons very well. He'll be hard to ignore, especially if it gets windy on the weekend because he flights it so well, but those numbers are worth keeping an eye on.
Here's a look at the current leaderboard.
Kramer Hickok is your leader in the clubhouse after a 5-under 67. He said afterward that it was the easiest he's ever seen TPC Sawgrass play.
I hate that the rough around the 17th green is up so high. Need less cushion for players who mis-hit shots!
Balls in the water on No. 17.
Most in a round: 50 (2007 R1)
Fewest in a round: 1 (2014 R3)
First round last year: 35
First round this year (so far): 1
Harold Varner III makes birdie at No. 16 to take a two-stroke lead, but he immediately gives it back by hitting a ball in the water on No. 17. He's the first player to go in the water on that hole this event.