Players Championship 2013: Roberto Castro and Surprising Round 1 Performances

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMay 10, 2013

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from the 18th tee during round one of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The first round of the 2013 Players Championship is in the books, and little-known Roberto Castro took home the low-round honors and also tied the course record (held by Greg Norman and Fred Couples) with a score of 63. 

At nine-under, he's the leader heading into Round 2. 

Behind him, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson have a share of second place at six-under, while Tiger Woods is only four shots off the pace and tied for fourth with a five-under round on Thursday afternoon at TPC Sawgrass. 

The action is just beginning in Florida. 

While Castro's record-setting performance stole the show in this legendary tournament, others emerged to add surprising performances in Round 1 in Ponte Vedra Beach. Check out those performances below. 


Roberto Castro

Castro started on the 10th hole on Thursday, but he played like a seasoned pro after he got going on his front nine. 

In addition to birdieing five of his first nine holes, Castro hit a beautiful shot on No. 17—otherwise known as the "Island Green"—landing his ball just under two feet from the hole and proving that the first seven holes of his afternoon were no fluke. 

He finished with two more birdies and an eagle and didn't register a birdie in his record-setting round. 

Castro is a relatively unknown golfer, breaking on the scene last year after spending time working his way into the PGA Tour. Hailing from Texas as a youngster and Georgia Tech in college, Castro's best Tour finish this year is tied for 21st in Tampa Bay. 

Norman went on to win the 1994 tournament after he set the pace with a 63 in Round 1, but the course is playing well so far and there are dangerous golfers beneath him looking to knock him out of contention on Friday and Saturday. 

Either way, no one had Castro as the most likely Round 1 leader on Wednesday evening. 


Rory McIlroy

"Surprising" might not be the word you usually describe the No. 2 golfer in the world with, but after a disappointing 2013 season and a Masters performance that was inconsistent at best, that's exactly what his opening round at TPC Sawgrass was. 

Playing bogey-free golf all day, McIlroy had just one birdie in the first nine holes.

Then he turned it on. 

Going on a five-birdie in seven-hole stretch, McIlroy charged down the back nine, and finished his scoring day with a birdie on No. 17—a common theme among those who had good rounds on Thursday afternoon. 

CBS Sports' Kyle Porter helped predict that McIlroy might be in for a good round on Wednesday, when he noted that McIlroy is 2-of-2 in his last two tournaments at courses designed by Pete Dye. Dye is also in charge of the layout at TPC Sawgrass. 

We'll see what kind of McIlroy shows up on Friday and on through the tournament, as consistency has been one of his biggest problems all season. Sawgrass isn't a course you can survive without consistent play. 


Angel Cabrera

We last saw Angel Cabrera on the big stage at the Masters, where he went shot-for-shot with Adam Scott in a playoff for the ages. 

Thursday reminded us why Cabrera's place in that tournament was such a surprise. 

He came back down to earth at TPC Sawgrass, hitting two double bogeys and only netting three birdies to make up the difference. He also had a bogey to finish his scoring day at two-over. 

Just when it looked like Cabrera was ready to make a resurgence, he follows up his Masters performance with a dud in the opening round of the Players Championship. Cabrera has always been one for heroics, but his first round left a lot to be desired for the final three days. 

Especially when you consider his most-recent big-tournament performance. 


Webb Simpson

Webb Simpson finished at five-under on Thursday, complete with five birdies and no bogeys (another common theme for high finishers on Thursday). 

The 2012 U.S. Open champion missed the cut at the Masters this year and has had an up-and-down season on Tour, missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finishing 32nd at the Wells Fargo Championship last month. 

Simpson did finish second at the RBC Heritage tournament. 

He birdied out on No.'s 6, 7 and 8, and ended up finished just four strokes back of the unbelievable pace set by Castro in Round 1. 

Simpson is a noted champion, even though he's only won one major, and his exclusion from the cut field at the Masters was quite the surprise. After a quality run at the RBC and another setback at the Wells Fargo, he's roared into contention with his Round 1 on Thursday. 

Round 1 was full of surprises, and expect Round 2 to have the same amount of intrigue. 


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