Even though defending Masters champ Scottie Scheffler often says golf is hard, he looks like he gets out of bed shooting 4-under par. He can’t help himself. He’s just that good. He’s this generation’s Big Easy. For those under the age of 35, that’s Ernie Els’ nickname because of his languid, loose-looking swing which disguises enormous power. Scheffler’s also third in scoring average and first in greens in regulation this year so far. He’s definitely first in happy feet, if you've ever seen him hit a tee shot, and with a couple more decent rounds, he could be a threat.
Jordan Spieth, who has won three majors, can sometimes get to 4-under par or 6-under par for a round, and he makes it look hard, except for the putting part of things. In the first round, he was 3-under par. Unfortunately, lately, he’s been making more miraculous putts for pars than he has for eagles and birdies. Today he had nine 1-putts by the 13th hole.
Spieth has said that The Players is definitely a tournament he wants to win, but the design of the course flummoxes him, he explained. Maybe a few rounds at Stonebridge Ranch, a Pete Dye design in McKinney, Texas, a little north of Dallas, would help him get into the right frame of mind, which is basically playing golf while someone cackles because the holes are so hard.
No. 1 in the world, Jon Rahm, sometimes looks like he fights his way around a course. But he does hit an amazing number of quality shots with a swing so short it almost belongs in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. You could imagine that he played hockey as a youngster, but it’s doubtful there’s much ice hockey in Spain, except in the Pyrenees. Rahm is first in scoring, first in birdies and third in greens in regulation which is really important at TPC Sawgrass. He also plays golf like a tough guy and like he means business on every shot. Even though he’s in 34th place after the first round, he cannot be counted out. In college, the Sun Devils golf team, which Rahm was part of, played at a Pete Dye golf course, ASU Karsten. The course closed in 2019, but Rahm turned pro in 2016 so he has plenty of Pete Dye experience.
Now, here's the thing. Not one of them is in the lead. That honor goes to lesser- known Chad Ramey, whose sole victory is the 2022 Corales Puntacana Championship. You’re forgiven for not knowing who he is. He hasn’t been living on leaderboards in recent months or years. He falls into the category of unknown leads major which is rather traditional when majors are being played. Since the folks here in Ponte Vedra like to view this as a major, it applies.
The real leader, meaning the guy on the leaderboard who has the best resume of those with low scores is Collin Morikawa, who already won a PGA and a British Open. He doesn’t hit the ball the farthest. He’s not the leader in scoring. He’s not a front runner in greens in regulation. And yet, of the top 20 players we’ve heard so much about recently, he’s currently closest to the top at 7-under par.
After his round, he said it could have been lower. So, no matter who is leading after the first round today, remember, right now, Collin Morikawa is best placed of all in the tournament. Naturally, that could change by tomorrow. Stay tuned!
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