Willett pulls out of Players

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William McGirt made a pair of eagles on the back nine to atone for mistakes that were inevitable for just about everyone Thursday in The Players Championship.

Poulter battled hard to keep a bogey off his card and ground out a commendable 71 to get within three of the lead along with Emiliano Grillo, who made seven birdies in his 67, while Si Woo Kim is well placed on seven under after a 68 despite a big mistake at the 16th – his only blemish of the day.

The two have a one-shot lead over Rahm, veterans J.B. Holmes and Chez Reavie and rising Swedish star Alex Noren.

Masters victor Sergio Garcia produced the shot of the day, landing only the eighth ever hole-in-one on TPC Sawgrass’s iconic “Island Green” par-three 17th, but he struggled overall to a one-over 73.

Even with only a mild wind in the afternoon, just over a third of the field broke par.

“I don’t know that you can really learn this golf course, because the thing with this place is you hit one that lands four, five feet off the putting surface, there’s no telling what’s going to happen to it”.

In-form American Pat Perez showed what was possible as Rory McIlroy remained stuck in first gear on day three of the Players Championship.

Rory McIlroy had to birdie two of his last three holes to match Garcia’s 73, the four-time major victor having double-bogeyed the 10th and 14th in his first tournament since getting married and signing a multi-million pound equipment deal with TaylorMade.

“Just had two holes get away from me”, said Fowler, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

“I think I wasn’t quite in the tournament because of everything that’s been going on after the Masters win”, he said. A double bogey on the par-4 6th left the 2015 Players victor three-over par during a three-hole stretch, but he did close with a final-hole birdie. “So I maybe should have just taken it a bit easier over the weekend, but I was excited to get back, excited to get ready to play again and so maybe just being a little over keen was a detriment”.

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, holds his ball after making a hole-in-one on the 17th hole, during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“The feeling was great”, Garcia said. “A few distractions earlier this year kind of derailed that a little bit which is understandable, I had to be there with my mum, and now I’m ready to focus on my golf”. 2 and 12. Johnson rallied late with a 25-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole. He posted the tournament 72-hole record that year, 24-under-par-264.

“Obviously, it could have been really good today but ended up just being okay”. “And then I was going to go out Wednesday and I just thought, ‘Gosh, if I walk around in the heat, I’ll get exhausted”.

McGirt’s round didn’t hit a bump until the back nine when he bogeyed the 10th.

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