Tommy Fleetwood makes fine start to the Players Championship

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Fellow Australian Cameron Smith also has a lacklustre history at the Players despite the Ponte Vedra Beach resident using Sawgrass as his home base to practise and play.

This has led to a couple of two-stroke penalties, and also one situation in which a player had a penalty rescinded after officials acknowledged the new rule was causing confusion.

He led by one stroke from South Korean An Byeong-hun and American Brian Harman, and by two from Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy. "It's not brutally hard, but if the wind blows, it's going to play tough".

The tenacious Indian holed a seven-footer for his opening birdie on the par-5 second hole before dropping his lone bogey on the eighth.

Monahan, who recently reminded players that the tour had been heavily involved in the rewriting of the rules, on Wednesday strongly defended the "fantastic" US Golf Association and Royal & Ancient governing bodies. "In the past I haven't hit the ball all that straight".

"I've played well here in the past and if I drive it well that's a massive key for me".

"I'm hoping for soft greens in the morning so I can make a push and watch the guys battle in the afternoon (breezes) like we did today".

He believes a maiden PGA Tour win is within his grasp.

He came close previous year at the U.S. Open, where he finished a stroke behind champion Brooks Koepka after a closing 63.

"I'm going to have to get up to six (under) or better to feel like I'm not way back heading into the weekend".

McIlroy, a presence on leaderboards every time he has played this year, got off to a good start with a bogey-free sortie. "It's been different this year because I've been used to starting so fast but I feel like I've been doing a lot of good things and sometimes you just need a rhythm of shooting good scores and that seems like it's coming".

Most of the big names started smoothly but world number two Justin Rose was a notable exception.

Baddeley has the dubious stat of hitting most balls in the water surrounding the 133-yard hole than any competitor since 2003 - rinsing 13 shots. During his practice round on Tuesday, he hit a 3-wood bullet off the tee, just like always.

It is one of the most famous holes in golf because of an "island green" - actually a peninsula - that is surrounded by unforgiving water.



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