Players Championship 2019: Tee Times, Pairings and Predictions for Friday

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

Tommy Fleetwood has a share of the lead after firing a 65 in the opening round of the Players Championship.
Tommy Fleetwood has a share of the lead after firing a 65 in the opening round of the Players Championship.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

It is often referred to as the fifth major.

The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida is clearly one of the highlights of the PGA Tour. It may not be as big as the Masters or the U.S. Open, but this tournament attracts one of the most high-profile fields of the year. It also features the famous island green on the 17th hole and the dangerous finishing par-4 18th hole.

The first round belonged to British golfer Tommy Fleetwood and American Keegan Bradley. Both golfers finished the opening round at seven under par, one stroke better than Brian Harman and Byeong Hun An.

Tiger Woods was somewhat inconsistent, but he still managed a two-under 70. Tiger birdied the 17th as his tee shot made it over the water by no more than 18 inches, and after bouncing up to hole height, it rolled back to within eight feet of the hole. He canned the putt and the roaring crowd approved the uphill success.

Moore did Tiger one better on the 17th, as his tee shot hit the flagstick about two feet above the hole and dropped straight in for an ace. The crowd was at full throat after that shot and Moore finished with a five-under 67.

The leaderboard includes Rory McIlroy at five-under, Kevin Kisner at four-under, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson at three-under, and Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau joined Woods at two under par.

Fleetwood finished third in last week's Arnold Palmer, and he rode the momentum of that to a solid start. He hit 10 of 14 fairways in regulation, and he played a bogey-free round.

He said that keeping the ball in play throughout was the key to his success. "The course feels different then," Fleetwood said, per Helen Ross of PGATour.com. "Like if you're in the fairway all the time, the course feels very, very different, and it's a massive key."

Bradley was one of the favorites going in, and he had a strong opening round.

"It's one of those rounds that felt easy," Bradley said to NBC's Mike Tirico after his round. "I rarely have rounds like that. I made that birdie on 18, and it felt like an eagle on that hole.

"Everything comes down to putting, and we have made some big strides in the last month."

Woods missed a par putt on the 18th hole, but he was happy with the way he used his flat stick. 

"It was tricky out there today. I was hoping that we would get the brunt of the wind early and then it dies down, but the greens got a little bumpier down towards the end and it became more challenging to make the putts," Tiger said to NBC's Steve Sands. "I putted well today. It was about getting comfortable and letting the putts rip."

Golfers who played in the morning session Thursday will play in the afternoon Friday, and those who teed off in the afternoon will play in the morning Thursday.

Here's a link to tee times for all golfers in the second round of the Players Championship.

Keegan Bradley has a share of the lead and is happy with his putting stroke.
Keegan Bradley has a share of the lead and is happy with his putting stroke.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Bradley, playing with Andrew Landry and Si Woo Kim, will tee off at 8:22 a.m. ET. Woods, Reed and Webb Simpson will start their round at 8:32 a.m.

Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott are all former Players champions, and they will tee off at 8:43 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka will tee off at 9:04 a.m.

An, Scott Brown and Beau Hossler will start their round at 12:45 p.m. Schauffele, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas will tee off at 1:27 p.m. DeChambeau, Bubba Watson and Billy Horschel and will tee off at 1:38 p.m.

Predictions

Fleetwood has been getting closer and closer to winning in North America, and this could be the week. Expect him to fire a round in the 67-69 range in Friday's second round. The same holds for Bradley, who is playing some of the best golf of his career.

McIlroy has been having a hard time in the final rounds, but he should be excellent in the second round. He is hitting the ball as well as any golfer, and a round of 67 is not out of the question.

Tiger did not play his best round Thursday, but he was still two under par. Look for a round of 68.

However, the best round of the day should belong to Dustin Johnson. He is the best golfer in the world when he is on his game, and he could shoot 65 or better Friday.

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