2023 Players Championship: Scottie Scheffler’s smarts, Rory McIlroy’s woes lead nine takeaways from Round 1

A pair of young stars compete after the first round of the 2023 Players Championship. Collin Morikawa came out of the net on Thursday morning at the TPC Sawgrass, hitting a ghost ball 7-65 and one shot clear of leader Chad Ramey. Entering this week in the midst of five tournaments that included two misses and three top-10 finishes, Morikawa appears to be picking up steam early.

However, he’s not the only young major champion to play himself at a PGA Tour flagship event, as did the current Player of the Year. Scotty Scheffler’s day wasn’t as bright as Morikawa’s, but it was enough for him to sign on 4-68. first page of the leaderboard.

Victor Hovland, Jordan Spieth and Cameron Young finished the race on Thursday with a solid effort in a harder day’s wave and will look to keep their foot on the gas early Friday. It also needs some damage to world No. 1 John Rahm (-1) and World No. 3 Rory McIlroy (+4), who ended up at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Here are 10 thoughts from the first round of the 2023 Players Championship.

1. Chad Ramey? Get to know Ramy now because it probably won’t last long. On Thursday, Ramy scored five hits with his stick, which is completely unsteady. He doesn’t have a top 20 in his last 25 starts worldwide and has missed three cuts in a row. So of course (of course!) he beat Rory by 12 in the first round.

What the former Mississippi Bulldogs golfers really offer is the exciting storyline after 18 holes. Can someone who’s been playing poorly on the PGA Tour for the last six months beat Morikawa, Speth and Scheffler in TPC Sawgrass to win the Players?!

“It gives me confidence and deep down I feel like I belong here,” said Ramey, whose only PGA Tour win was at the Puerto Rico Open last March. “I believe I can defeat them. It’s just a matter, I guess, to prove to everyone else that I can. winning in my book, so I’m not going to complain.”

2. Crushing Morikawa: When Morikawa hits, he hits. His 2023 has been a microcosm of that so far. In the last five starts he has two misses and three finishes in the top six. The statistic that is mentioned (that I gave) during a good game like this one is his shooting prowess. While technically true, it also doesn’t tell the whole story. Data Golf noted that Morikawa is one of the best in the world, managing to combine a great week of putting with a great week of hitting the ball, which he looks like he’s going to do this week.

On Thursday, Morikawa won outright on the green, but overall he led the iron game and the tee-on-green game. It’s an intimidating formula that has propelled him to career victories in just the past few years. Especially for someone who says he’s playing with a lot of freedom again.

“I would say that for the most part I’m playing the way I used to play again.” He said. “I’m trying to enjoy it. I would say this week what I found earlier this week my swing hasn’t looked this good probably since 2019 when I first came out. I played very well, 2020, 2021, but in terms of position I just like where I am right now and I just release everything, just let me just look at my target and hit the ball and hopefully it gets there, where I want.”

3. Smart Sheff: Player number 2 in the official world golf rankings is still underestimated for some reason. This week, Scheffler has been hitting the ball nearly two full strokes per tournament better than the world’s second-best striker in 2023. It’s amazing. It continued on Thursday. Scheffler hit the field almost five times from the tee to the green, and he did it by playing smart shot after smart shot and putting as they were introduced.

Here is an example on the 8th par-3 hole. Scheffler played on the left side of the green, his meat, while teammates Rahm and McIlroy landed bad long shots and right shots, indicating they were probably breaking that right pin. They teamed up to play 1 while Scheffler hit 1 foot. This is a microcosm of his wisdom, but add 18 or 72 holes to that and combine that with his ability to hit the ball and you begin to understand why he wins so many golf tournaments.



4. Spasmodic Ming Wu: I felt terrible about Min Woo Lee, but at the same time, I found myself giggling at the sight of a grown man leaning over the back of a sun lounger while another grown man with slicked back gray hair – which some people on Twitter he said that he resembled President Joe Biden – the muscles of his lower leg were working. What a scene! Lee, who has the shiniest mustache in all sports, shared the lead for a while before bogeying him out on the final two holes. Still, it was a valiant effort for a man who looked like he could hardly be late.

He attributed the cramps to lack of electrolytes, and it looks like he’ll be fine for the next few rounds.

Speaking of Min Woo… His sister Minji is one of the top 5 women in the world. How crazy is it that siblings are in the top 50 in both men’s and women’s golf?! “From the same T-shirts I will [beat her]. But when she plays women and I play men, it’s pretty close,” Min Woo said. “If we had a sprint, I think I would win, but she’s so consistent. So, I think after 100 rounds she would beat me because I can sideways and she doesn’t hit out of the fairway. Yes, I think it’s pretty close.”

5. Problems with placing Rory: We talked about the right miss On Thursday morning, McIlroy went off the tee, but what really knocked him out of the tournament was an ice stick. On Thursday, he landed just one over 4-foot punch and finished near last in that area in terms of the number of hits he received on the kick. It was a problem on the West Coast, where he lost seven strokes in two tournaments, and it was an even bigger problem Thursday in the first round at TPC Sawgrass.

6. Fireworks at #17: We saw a bit of everything at #17 in the first round. The day started with sick ace Hayden Buckley.

The result is a better way to describe an ace.

Then, at the end of the day, Nick Watney landed four punches for the quad bogey, with three of those punches coming from inside 4 feet. One of them was a 9-inch one-handed miss. Number 17 may be slightly overrated as a golf hole, but it always seems dramatic.

7. Rough Rough: On Thursday, several players mentioned how rough play was punishable. Good ball possession is almost always a prerequisite for good golf this championship, but it looks like it will be especially true this time around.

“I feel like it’s the same punishment as I’ve seen it for a long time,” McIlroy said. “You would have to go back to when the tournament was in May, when we were in Bermuda, for it to be that free-kick. struggle.”

Morikawa added: “It’s just the angle of the greens and obviously where they put the pins you can’t attack them. You just won’t have rotation. So when the ball lands so hard, I mean, you I just try to put it on the front edge and try to make a 4. That’s why it’s just really important. I was lucky today, those I missed, I was in the bunker or on pine straw or in the first cut. So, I got away with a few, which is really nice, and you sort of use that to your advantage.”

The greens baked when the day came (the day wave was…


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