McGirt, Hughes share Players lead at 67

Two eagles carried William McGirt to a share of the first-round lead in the Players Championship.

McGirt (pictured) sank a 55-foot putt on the 11th hole and a 10-footer at No. 16 for his eagles and was tied with Mackenzie Hughes of Canada after the opening day on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“Two good yardages, two good shots and two good putts,” said the 37-year-old McGirt, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory last year in the Memorial Tournament and whose best finish four previous starts in the Players were ties for 43rd in 2013 and last year.

“The thing with this place is you hit one that lands four, five feet off the putting surface, there’s no telling what’s going to happen to it. So it’s a matter of somehow getting lucky when you do miss a shot. That’s the way this golf course is.

” … The win last year was huge and playing well in the PGA last year and the Masters last month has really helped my confidence.”

Hughes, 26, whose only victory on the circuit also came last year in the RSM Classic, holed a 13-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and made a fine par save from the right rough on the last hole to cap a bogey-free 67.

“I really putted well,” said Hughes, making his first start in the Players. “This course is even difficult when there no wind and it was windy this afternoon and the course was very firm.

“Making no bogeys is definitely helpful and I’m going to try to keep it in the short grass again the next few days and see what happens.”

Rookie Jon Rahm of Spain made a 32-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to complete a bogey-free 68 in his first competitive round on the Stadium Course and was tied for third with Alex Noren of Sweden, J.B. Holmes and Chez Reavie.

Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside shot 69 and was in a huge tie for seventh with Daniel Summerhays, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Kyle Stanley, David Lingmerth of Sweden, Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, Cody Gribble, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Daniel Berger and Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain.

Adam Scott of Australia, the 2004 Players champion, held the lead at 6-under before hitting into the water on each of the last two holes to finish double bogey-double bogey and had a 70 that put him in a tie for 18th that included defending champion Jason Day of Australia, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson sank a 23-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole and was in a tie for 32nd at 71, while Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland posted 73s and were in a tie for 66th that included Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, who made a hole in one from 122 yards on the 17th hole.

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