PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. —
At one point, Singh let out a hearty laugh walking off the tee with Robert Garrigus and J.J. Henry. His golf wasn’t the subject of the laughter. Singh hit into the water on the last hole and made bogey for a 74, leaving him in danger of missing the cut.
So ended a first round filled with plenty of action — a record-tying score by a player hardly anyone knows, McIlroy breaking par for the first time at Sawgrass, 17 balls in the water around the island-green 17th and 33 rounds in the 60s.
Padraig Harrington followed an eagle with a double bogey. Michael Thompson made a hole-in-one.
But it all started with Castro, a 27-year-old who felt like he couldn’t miss. His record-tying score was posted as players were on the practice range getting ready to tee off in the afternoon, making it tough to stay patient on a course that demands it. Woods was nine shots behind before he hit his first shot.
“I’ve seen that a lot, but not at this golf course,” he said.
He did well to get within four shots. Woods, Webb Simpson and Ryan Palmer at 67 had the lowest round among those who played late, and they now turn around and get the morning conditions — hopeful they’ll be the same — on Friday.
McIlroy also played in the morning, in the same group as Masters champion Adam Scott (69) and Steve Stricker (67).
The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland had never made the cut or even broken par at The Players, but McIlroy figured it out on a gorgeous morning by dialing it back off the tee and letting his iron play take over. McIlroy never came seriously close to a bogey, and he didn’t hit drive once on the front nine.