Players Championship: Rob Lee reviews opening round at Sawgrass

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Rob Lee reflects on an impressive round from Tommy Fleetwood at the Players Championship and discusses why the tournament’s switch to March may benefit Rory McIlroy.

The reason why the scoring was so good today is because of how soft the golf course is. It was a nice, bright day, but there was enough wind out there to keep things interesting.

Players as good as we have here this week, with as much power as they’ve got, don’t mind hitting a club or two more into some of these holes. The softness of the course has given them effectively wider fairways to hit and a chance to get close to some of these pin positions.

It was a great round of golf from Tommy Fleetwood, who has said over the past month that his game has been there or thereabouts. It hasn’t come together yet, but there are signs that he is getting to somewhere near his best form.

That 65 today will leave him full of confidence with three rounds to go and, who knows, his first PGA Tour title could come here at the Players.

Rory’s time?

I agree with Rory McIlroy’s comments that he believes he has a better chance of winning here now the tournament is back to March. He can play more aggressively when it’s like this and he would much prefer to play this golf course at it is, as it plays to his strengths.

Rory’s problems haven’t really been over his first three rounds of late, as he has got himself in the mix many times and finished in the top five plenty of times this year already. He just hasn’t had a good Sunday yet.

At some point, he will have a good Sunday and if he keeps doing what he has been doing and then produce the same in a final round, then a win will not be far away.

He has been playing very well but hasn’t had the wins to back it up, so if he can get a win before the Masters then that would make for a very interesting first major of the year.

Looking ahead

They were always going to have trouble with daylight here by bringing it forward to March. They were practising in the dark this morning and couldn’t have stretched the day out any longer, but they were still struggling to finish.

I think it will even itself on Friday, where those who played well on Thursday afternoon – like Keegan Bradley – will be looking forward to going out early and taking advantage of the slightly stiller conditions. If one of the morning starters can go low, they may be able to post a total that none of the afternoon starters are able to get to.

If the greens continue firm up during the week, depending on whether or not we have rain over the weekend, then things could become very interesting come Sunday afternoon.

Watch the Players Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 11.30am on Sky Sports’ dedicated channel – Sky Sports The Players.

(c) Sky News 2019: Players Championship: Rob Lee reviews opening round at Sawgrass

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