June 26, 2022

England’s Tommy Fleetwood waits on the seventh inexperienced throughout the first spherical of the Gamers Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 10, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Seashore, Fla.Jared Tilton/Getty Pictures

Tommy Fleetwood wanted a spherical like this. He has gone greater than two years with out successful, falling to this point down the world rating that he narrowly stayed within the prime 50 on the cutoff to qualify for The Gamers Championship.

Amid two delays, one well timed par save and loads of good photographs alongside the best way, Fleetwood opened with a 6-under 66 to share the lead – for now – with Pebble Seashore winner Tom Hoge.

And now he waits. Perhaps till Saturday.

The PGA Tour’s premier occasion with a $20 million purse bought off to a stop-and-go begin due to storms Thursday and a dire forecast for Friday. Solely 66 gamers completed the opening spherical. Twelve didn’t even hit their first tee photographs.

“I’ve bought a full spherical in right now. I don’t know once I’ll play subsequent, however I’m comfortable. I’m executed,” Fleetwood stated. “I’ve had a very good day. I can sit on that. I can really feel pleased with my work and go from there.”

The PGA Tour loved perfect climate with no delays for 9 weeks in 4 states throughout 5 time zones to begin the yr. And for the richest occasion in golf, with the strongest and deepest area of the yr, it barely bought began.

Greater than an inch of in a single day rain delayed the beginning by an hour. Storms within the space resulted in one other delay of greater than 4 hours.

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Jon Rahm lastly bought his brief sport and placing to behave, and it carried him to a 69. Significantly pleasing was his birdie-par-birdie end. Somebody requested if he may take that momentum into tomorrow.

“Initially, I don’t even know if I’m going to play tomorrow,” he stated.

Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup star in Paris in 2018 whose final victory was in South Africa towards the tip of 2019, returned from the lengthy delay to make a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second gap for his third birdie in a row.

Hoge had an eagle on the par-5 second gap, his eleventh of the spherical, and shot 31 on the entrance 9 to hitch him within the clubhouse at 66.

Keith Mitchell was poised to hitch the till his method to the 18th was proper of the flag and landed on the slope of gnarly tough within the mounds, and he failed to save lots of par. He was at 67, together with Riviera winner Joaquin Niemann, Anirban Lahiri and Joaquin Niemann.

Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., is the highest Canadian to this point within the event. He had been taking pictures a 4-under 68 by way of 16 holes earlier than the rain drive him off the course.

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Merritt, B.C.’s Roger Sloan did handle to complete their opening rounds. Conners shot a 70 whereas managed a 73.

Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., made it by way of simply six holes and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., managed to get onto the course, however couldn’t even full a single gap.

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The stop-and-start nature may not be over.

The forecast known as for a barely decrease likelihood of rain Friday – 99% as a substitute of 100% – and there was an opportunity those that completed the spherical may not see the course once more till Saturday.

Six gamers from the early facet of the draw didn’t end, which means they return at 7:15 a.m. Friday to play one or two holes earlier than getting the remainder of the time without work.

Ian Poulter can relaxation simple, even when it takes time for his coronary heart price to regular. The 46-year-old may sense the horn about to sound to droop play for darkness. By rule, gamers can end the outlet that anybody within the group has began.

Poulter was on the tee on the par-3 seventeenth, the island inexperienced with a again pin and smooth greens, when he fired his shot and barely noticed it land 4 ft from the cup. He jogged all the best way to the inexperienced, holed the birdie putt, ran by way of the tunnel beneath the bleachers and onto the 18th tee. He hit his tee shot because the group in entrance cleared out of the best way from the green.

He did the identical factor 11 years in the past and doesn’t seem to have misplaced a step.

Even with solely 66 gamers finishing the spherical, that was sufficient time for the Stadium Course to offer its share of thrills and spills, principally the latter.

Harold Varner III, needing good outcomes to remain within the prime 50 and make his win in Saudi Arabia repay with a visit to the Masters, had a two-shot lead when he stepped to the seventeenth tee. His shot spun sharply down the slope, throughout the sunshine minimize of tough and into the water. His subsequent shot from the drop zone almost did the identical. He made triple bogey, dropped one other shot on the 18th and shot 69.

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“Simply was in between golf equipment and didn’t execute the shot, and that’s what you get quite a bit out right here,” Varner stated.

Amazingly, that was the one ball within the water out of 69 tee photographs.

No want telling that to Adam Scott. The previous Gamers champion pumped two tee photographs into the water off the 18th tee and took a quadruple bogey on his strategy to a 78.

Fleetwood was 6 below by way of 14 holes when he hit a wild drive into the pine straw to the appropriate of the sixth fairway, resulting in bogey. He was even additional to the appropriate on the seventh, however an outstanding save from behind the inexperienced saved him from dropping one other shot, after which he holed a 25-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth.

“I’m happy to be in on that rating,” Fleetwood stated. “I felt like I drove the ball properly apart from a pair, and I felt like I chipped and putted nice. For positive, that was essentially the most I may have gotten out of the spherical. So days like which are very, very pleasing.”

Lengthy. Moist. However pleasing.