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Stricker one shot back at The Players Championship

Stricker one shot back at The Players Championship

He got off to the right start on Thursday at the Players Championship, taming the sometimes diabolical TPC Sawgrass to shoot a bogey-free six-under 66 and join five others with the first-round lead.

Johnson, who has held the No. 1 ranking for 15 months, can lose his spot atop the rankings if one of four players wins here this week: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim and Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas were a shot off the lead on five under par, with European No.1 Tommy Fleetwood three under and last year's runner-up Ian Poulter on two under.

TPC Sawgrass and its greens have always had the upper hand on him, so this time around, he switched things up.

"I was just not making enough putts", Johnson said. He tried the "AimPoint" method that some players use to help them read the greens.

"The course is in immaculate shape, and it's going to firm up as the week goes on".

Starting at the 10th, some 20 minutes apart, Simpson and world number one Johnson got things rolling quickly.

"I think DJ plays incredible all the time", Bubba Watson said after playing with him. "It's fun to play golf courses that are this well-kept".

"It was obviously a dream start but I didn't make much of it from that moment on", Rose told Sky Sports. It was a big deal to get there and it's a big deal to stay there. Cantlay, Hadley and Spain's Sergio Garcia each reached 7 under in the afternoon before dropping shots. "I've certainly figured out which holes that I don't play well". "I've been using the Spider for the past year or so and this was kind of in between". I think just struggled on the greens here.

The Olympic champion started on the 10th and followed a birdie on the 11th by holing out from 96 yards for an eagle on the 12th, but then mixed three bogeys with four birdies. He also bogeyed No. 18 to drop into a tie for 13th at 4 under.

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"I think three bogeys is probably what halted a great round, but it's still not easy out there to keep a clean sheet". 1 ranking without a fight. "Took me a few years to learn that you didn't have to overpower it, not that I can overpower it anymore". In his previous nine starts, his best finish was a tie for 12th past year. He shot 1-under 71.

Woods shot an even-par 72, and that was the best score in his feature group with Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.

None was anywhere near the lead at The Players Championship.

Johnson's playing partners also were in red numbers, Watson at four under and Koepka two under. Thomas opened with a one-over 73, Spieth a three-over 75 and Rose and Rahm four-under 68s. I definitely want to stay there, but if someone passes me it's not going to change anything, I'm going to still go back to next week and try to get it back.

"I felt like it was a really solid day", Johnson said. But today I felt like I did a very good job reading the greens and obviously, I rolled it well.

NOTES: All seven players to finish at 67 or better in the morning wave began their rounds on the 10th hole. The rookie was Keith Mitchell, who didn't even know he was in the field until Paul Casey withdrew on Wednesday. He had an MRI and said he was not sure if he would tee it up until he arrived at the course Thursday.

Success! An email has been sent with a link to confirm list signup. Koepka added that the wrist was feeling better but not 100 percent.

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