Sergio Garcia rushed to the first tee and raced to the finish line in the opening round of the Players Championship.
Most importantly, he avoided the kind of wreck that allowed the TPC Sawgrass to live up to its reputation as the course where anything can happen to anyone at any time.
Garcia thought he had plenty of time to get from the range to the 10th tee to start his round.
The sun was in his eyes when he looked at the clock, he wasn't sure what he saw, jogged the rest of the way and had a minute to spare. Then he fired off a seven-under 65, capped off by a birdie-birdie-eagle finish for a two-shot lead over Brian Harman.
Garcia only had to look next to him to see what kind of damage the Stadium Course inflicted, even on a pristine day of pleasant sunshine and a mild breeze.
Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, opened with a double bogey from the trees. He hit two in the water on the 18th and made a quadruple-bogey eight.
The former World No.1 wound up with a 79, his worst score since his opening round at Royal Portrush in the 2019 Open Championship.
When darkness brought the first round to a halt – 21 players didn't finish – there already were 13 scores of 80 or higher. That included Henrik Stenson with an 85, his highest score ever on the PGA Tour.
There were 22 scores of triple bogey or worse.
"For some reason, it just kind of fits my eye. I see what I want to do pretty much every hole, and then it's a matter of doing it." – Sergio Garcia
Garcia took eight shots to play his final three holes. Byeong Hun An took 11 shots on the par-3 17th hole.
The Spaniard feels comfortable on a course that causes anxiety even in good weather.
"For some reason, it just kind of fits my eye," said Garcia, who won The Players in 2008 and has twice been runner-up. "I see what I want to do pretty much every hole, and then it's a matter of doing it."
Reigning Open champion Shane Lowry took bogey on his final hole for a 68 and was tied with Corey Conners and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Bryson DeChambeau, coming off his victory last week at Bay Hill, had to take a little off his driver on the par-5 16th and had 9-iron left, setting up a birdie-birdie-par finish to join the group at 69.
Jason Day was the best of the Australians, rebounding from a horror final round at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational to open with a two-under 70 to be sitting in a share of 12th place.
Day dropped a shot on his first hole of the day, but picked up three birdies to finish in red numbers.
Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman posted 71s, Adam Scott and Matt Jones even-par 72s.
Cameron Percy carded a one-over 73 on his Players Championship debut, but Cameron Davis' first round at the event wasn't so flash.
Davis' four-over 76 left the 2017 Australian Open champion tied for 112th and struggling to make the cut.
- Doug Ferguson, DPA
- Doug Ferguson, DPA