Controversy Surrounds First Round of PGA Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

TPC at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL — March 15, 2024

The Players Championship teed off yesterday on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Darkness fell before the round could be completed, and those players with holes still to play returned to the course this morning to finish Round One.

The round featured a hole-in-one on the island green 17th by Ryan Fox.

However, the big news of opening day centered around a controversial drop by co-leader Rory McIlroy after he hit his ball into a hazard on the seventh hole, his 16th hole of the day. (The player started his round on the back nine.)

ESPN Senior Writer Mark Schlabach explained the controversy. “McIlroy had just taken the lead at 8 under when he pulled his drive left on the par-4 seventh hole… McIlroy’s ball crossed a hazard, bounced, and kicked into the water.”

“The issue was whether his ball hit above a red hazard line on the slope of a fairway bunker or below it. If the ball hit above the red line, McIlroy was permitted to take a drop at that spot. If the ball hit below the line, however, he would have to go much farther back to drop and hit his third shot.”

“From the tee, McIlroy was certain that he saw his ball hit above the red line. Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth, who were playing with McIlroy, didn’t seem so sure.”

“It made for a rather uncomfortable moment in what was generally a comfortable round for McIlroy, who tied a Players Championship record with 10 birdies in a round.”

Camera angles were inconclusive, so without the proof to deny McIlroy’s assertion, he made the drop adjacent to the hazard.

McIlroy shared the first-round lead with reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and Xander Schauffele.

“It would have been nice to shoot 62 and not hit two in the water,” McIlroy said.

Canada’s Nick Taylor and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick tied for fourth at six under one stroke back. The top-ranked player in the world, Scottie Scheffler, who is also the defending Players Championship winner, tied for sixth at five under, along with six other players, including Jason Day and Ludvig Aber.

Round One Leaderboard

*Started Round on Back Nine

Rory McIlroy 65*
Xander Schauffele 65*
Wyndham Clark 65
Nick Taylor 66*
Matt Fitzpatrick 66
Jason Day 67*
Tom Hoge 67
Maverick McNealy 67*
Tyler Duncan 67*
Scottie Scheffler 67
Ludvig Aberg 67*
Nate Lashley 68*
Chris Kirk 68*
Michael Kim 68*
Sepp Straka 68
Max Homa 68
Corey Conners 68*
Mark Hubbard 68*
Matthias Schmid 68*
Taylor Montgomery 68*
Luke List 69*
Tony Finau 69
Ryan Fox 69*
C.T. Pan 69*
Byeong Hun An 69*
Harris English 69*
Andrew Putnam 69*
Hideki Matsuyama 69
Emiliano Grillo 69
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 69*
Keith Mitchell 69*
J.T. Poston 69*
Jimmy Stanger 69*
Lee Hodges 69
Dylan Wu 69*
Justin Rose 70*
Adam Scott 70*
Ryan Moore 70
Martin Laird 70*
Gary Woodland 70*
Tommy Fleetwood 70*
Peter Malnati 70
Chan Kim 70*
Mackenzie Hughes 70*
Sam Ryder 70
Si Woo Kim 70*
Alex Smalley 70
Kurt Kitayama 70
Sahith Theegala 70
Sungjae Im 70
Matthieu Pavon 70
Cameron Young 70*
Ryo Hisatsune 70
Alex Noren 71
David Skinns 71*
Billy Horschel 71
Brice Garnett 71
Shane Lowry 71
Tyson Alexander 71
Justin Thomas 71
Thomas Detry 71
Beau Hossler 71
Justin Lower 71
Erik van Rooyen 71*
Jake Knapp 71
Denny McCarthy 71*
Adam Schenk 71
Collin Morikawa 71
Aaron Rai 71*
Carson Young 71
Doug Ghim 71
Hayden Buckley 71
Austin Eckroat 71
Sami Valimaki 71
Steve Stricker 72
Brian Harman 72
Francesco Molinari 72*
Seamus Power 72*
Keegan Bradley 72
Ben Martin 72
Patrick Cantlay 72*
Patrick Rodgers 72*
Stephan Jaeger 72
Ben Silverman 72
J.J. Spaun 72*
Taylor Moore 72
Eric Cole 72
Akshay Bhatia 72
Camilo Villegas 73
Webb Simpson 73
Troy Merritt 73*
Russell Henley 73
David Lipsky 73
Grayson Murray 73*
Matthew NeSmith 73*
Min Woo Lee 73*
Zac Blair 73
Ben Taylor 73
Sam Burns 73*
Chad Ramey 73
Matt Wallace 73*
Will Zalatoris 73
Nicolai Hojgaard 73*
Viktor Hovland 73*
Ben Griffin 73*
Nico Echavarria 73*
Sam Stevens 73
Matt Kuchar 74*
Chez Reavie 74
Aaron Baddeley 74*
Kevin Yu 74
Scott Stallings 74
Brendon Todd 74*
Rickie Fowler 74
Jordan Spieth 74*
Joel Dahmen 74*
Adam Svensson 74*
Nick Hardy 74*
Davis Riley 74*
Andrew Novak 74
Robert MacIntyre 74
Carl Yuan 74*
S.H. Kim 74
Charley Hoffman 75
Lucas Glover 75*
Adam Hadwin 75
K.H. Lee 75
Chesson Hadley 75
Taylor Pendrith 75*
Callum Tarren 75*
Greyson Sigg 75*
Brandon Wu 75
Davis Thompson 75*
Justin Suh 76*
Kevin Streelman 77*
Joseph Bramlett 77
Harry Hall 77
Vincent Norrman 77
Nick Dunlap 77
Cam Davis 79
Ben Kohles 80*
Robby Shelton 80*
Garrick Higgo WD
Tom Kim WD