| Tiger Woods watches his missed birdie putt on the first hole at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach Thursday. (AFP)
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Former US PGA champion Bob Tway headed a group of four players in the lead in the clubhouse after the first round of the $6.5 million Players Championship was suspended on Thursday.
Tway, Skip Kendall, Jay Haas and Rocco Mediate, who all played in the morning, finished with matching four-under-par 68s. Kevin Sutherland, the 2002 WGC Accenture Match Play champion, was also four-under through 16 holes.
Sutherland, though, had hit his tee shot at the famous par-three 17th island-green hole into the water when the horn sounded to suspend play because of lightning in the area.
Stewart Cink finished with a 69 and was joined on three-under by Jim Carter, twice former Players champion Fred Couples and 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, all of whom have yet to complete their rounds.
Australian Robert Allenby, John Daly and Matt Gogel were in the clubhouse on 70. World No. 1 Tiger Woods posted an even-par 72 after birdies on two of the final three holes.
Morning play was delayed 30 minutes due to thunderstorms and 68 players were on the course when play was suspended for the day.
Windy, overcast conditions presented some difficulty for the 144 players who teed off in the 30th Players Championship.
Kendall and Mediate negotiated the par-72, 7,093-yard Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass without a bogey.
Mediate, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, used his local knowledge to good effect as he compiled his best score in the event since he shot an opening 67 in 1998.
Tway, who has not won on the US PGA Tour since 1995, produced seven birdies and three bogeys. Haas, who has also been in good form this season, had five birdies and one bogey in his round.
With world No. 2 Ernie Els and No. 3 Phil Mickelson both absent this week, Woods was an even stronger favourite than usual to win here.
But, after a 72 that included three birdies and three bogeys, Woods has some work to do.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball as clean as I had been,” said Woods, who won this event in 2001 and already has three victories this year.
“I had some funny bounces and just one of those days where not a lot of things went my way.”
Historically, Woods has struggled on the opening day here, never shooting a round in the 60s. When he won two years ago, he began with a 72.