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Asian trio shoots 69s, Theegala lies 37th as McIlroy among leaders at The Players

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Asian trio shoots 69s, Theegala lies 37th as McIlroy among leaders at The Players

Ponte Vedra (U.S.A), March 15 (Ajit Weekly News) Former champion, Rory McIlroy holed a record 10 birdies, but then finished 7-under 65 for a share of the lead in the incomplete first round at the 50th edition of The Players Championship.

McIlroy shared the lead with the reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and seven-time PGA Tour winner Xander Schauffele.

Canadian Nick Taylor and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick were lying a shot back in the PGA Tour’s flagship US$25 million tournament, where nine players were yet to finish as play was suspended after fading light.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Byeong Hun An of Korea and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan fired matching 3-under 69s to lead the Asian challenge in T-22nd place, while Indian-Americans, Sahith Theegala (70) was T-37th and Akshay Bhatia (72) was T-76.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, rising star Ludvig Aberg and former World No. 1 Jason Day were among seven players tied at sixth spot with rounds of 67 each.

Debutant Ryo Hisatsune of Japan rued a sluggish finish where he dropped three shots over his last two holes at the infamous 17th and 18th holes en route to a 70, which was matched by Korean duo Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim, the 2017 Players champion.

The in-form An, who finished tied eighth at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational for his third top-10 of the season, produced only his fourth round in the 60s since making his first appearance at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Matsuyama, who won the Genesis Invitational last month for a ninth PGA Tour victory, bounced back from two bogeys in his first three holes by carding five birdies on Hole Nos. 4, 6, 9, 15 and 16.

McIlroy, who won The Players in 2019, tied the tournament record with 10 birdies in a round as he chases a 25th career win on the PGA Tour, despite finding water twice with errant drives on the 7th and 18th holes.

“It would be nice to shoot 62 and not have two in the water, I guess,” said Mcllroy, who is ranked second in the world.

“I had a decent day on Sunday at Bay Hill and shot 70, for sure I would have taken Monday off here. But because of not shooting a decent score, I grinded on the range and figured something out and put the time in, and it’s sort of already reaping benefits, so that’s nice,” he added.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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