Rory McIlroy set to miss Europe's flagship event due to back injury

On one hand, he was returning to TPC Sawgrass as the titleholders, but he has also been far removed from that sort of form over the past year.

The 23-year-old Smith shares 32nd place with world No.1 Dustin Johnson.

Just another day at the Stadium.

If you had William McGirt or Mackenzie Hughes as the first-round leader of The Players Championship in your office pool, you must be smiling.

Out on the course, Spain's Jon Rahm and Canada's David Hearn shared the lead on five under par, with current Masters champion Sergio Garcia just three off the pace. It was nice that it spun back into the hole. But he bounced back right away with an eagle from 56 feet away on the par-5 11th.

After playing just 13 tournaments past year due to a foot injury, Poulter had 10 events this season to earn 218 FedEx Cup points or Dollars 347,634 (£269,755) to remain fully exempt.

The last player to win the Masters and record a hole-in-one in a PGA Tour event in the same year was Tiger Woods in 1997.

Willett was also the first defending champion since Mike Weir in 2004 to miss the cut at Augusta National and made an early exit from his next event in the RBC Heritage.

"It wasn't ideal golf, but I managed it really well and made a few nice saves when I needed to and made a few nice putts".

He did exactly that at No. 18 when his drive flared to the right. He found a 4-foot wide window in which he had to keep it under on branch and go over two more.

"I was thinking actually seven (or) eight-under after the second hole and I did give myself the opportunities coming in, just, unfortunately, had a couple of mistakes", the Australian told reporters. I could never really get any momentum.

Having the lead after the first round of The Players Championship may be something to celebrate, both golfers know this tournament is won over the weekend. - On a track as hard to dominate as the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and a tournament as tough as The Players Championship, synergy - when the results are actually better than the sum of its parts - can be the most important attribute to carry in the bag.

Also at 2-under are 54-year-old Vijay Singh of Ponte Vedra, Blayne Barber of Lake City and Lee Westwood of England, one of the last players to make the field. An MRI revealed the rib fracture, and McIlroy missed tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well as planned starts at the Genesis Open and Honda Classic on the PGA Tour.

Further birdies on the first and third took Wallace to 16 under par and five ahead of Germany's Sebastian Heisele, who followed his opening 64 by carding three birdies and a bogey in 12 holes on day two. "Obviously there's so much water here and there's no real easy recovery from the water".

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