The top of the leaderboard is very much in flux entering Day 2 of the 2014 Players Championship.
A number of golfers made a surge on Thursday's opening round, leaving plenty of contenders vying for the top spot in the leaderboard for Day 2 and beyond. A spectacular Day 1 of action only set the stage for what should be a thrilling final three days at TPC Sawgrass.
Martin Kaymer stole the show in Day 1. His opening-round score of 63 allowed him to enter the clubhouse as the 18-hole leader at nine under, while Russell Henley left Thursday just two shots back and Sang-Moon Bae is one shot behind him.
Let's dive into the updated leaderboard as well as predictions for Friday's rounds.
Martin Kaymer Will Maintain Lead Through 36 Holes
Martin Kaymer was on fire in Day 1 of The Players.
The Germany product started off his opening round with two straight birdies and added five more just in the front nine alone. For good measure, he added two more in the back nine for a bogey-less round of 63.
His round on Thursday joined some elite company, per Golf Channel's Jason Sobel:
Martin Kaymer shoots 63 to tie Greg Norman and Roberto Castro for the tournament record. Stood for 19 years, matched each of the last two.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) May 8, 2014
Kaymer came into TPC Sawgrass in good form, posting a final score of five under par, tied for 18th, at Wells Fargo. And he proved that wasn't a fluke on Day 1 against some of the world's best golfers.
The former No. 1 golfer in the world has a major victory to his name from the 2010 PGA Championship, and two more top-10 major finishes further prove his worth.
There was simply nothing wrong with Kaymer's game on Day 1. His putting was scorching, he controlled the fairways and showed plenty of experience and expertise. That bodes well for him entering a Day 2 in which he should retain the lead.
Jordan Spieth Will Post Best Round of Day 2
In case you already forgot about the Masters, Jordan Spieth is making his name known yet again at TPC Sawgrass—and the best is yet to come.
The 20-year-old came out strong on Day 1, posting a five-under 67 on the day. Only three golfers were able to finish their opening rounds with a lower score than Spieth's.
But still without a victory in 2014 after a narrow Masters defeat in April, Spieth isn't content with his performance, per Associated Press' Doug Ferguson, via Yahoo! Sports: "Plenty of chances to win, and it's eating at me a little that I haven't taken advantage of one of them yet. But I keep putting myself in position, and I believe that it will go my way here soon."
Perhaps the most impressive part of his first round was how he closed it. He hit four birdies in his first seven holes, and even though some breaks didn't go his way through the back nine, he avoided bad holes and finished with no bogeys.
It shouldn't be surprising, though. This youngster proved at Augusta National that he isn't fazed by the spotlight. And with him more motivated than ever to get his first career victory, expect him to have the best round of the day on Friday.
Rory McIlroy Will Emerge as A Contender
Rory McIlroy typically runs away with golf tournaments or bows out of them early.
Through one round at TPC Sawgrass, it was looking more like the latter. But the bad breaks won't last for the Northern Irish standout.
McIlroy went just two under on Thursday, good for a tie for 29th place. However, his round had the feel of a much more productive 18 holes than that. He started the front nine and back nine with two straight birdies on each, and some bad breaks forced three bogeys on his score from the front nine alone.
Unless Kaymer has another nine-under-par round in him, McIlroy should see the top contenders level off a bit after a strong Day 1 across the board.
Motivated by his early bogeys from Thursday, McIlroy won't pass up the chance to keep those birdie streaks going and put his name on the leaderboard.