The 144-man field at The Players Championship is shrinking even before today’s cut.
Five players withdrew from the opening round Thursday, and only one of them (D.A. Points) did not start.
Angel Cabrera, who made 9 on the par-3 17th, withdrew for “personal reasons” after 78. Simon Dyson withdrew with a bad back after 76. Hunter Haas only made it through three holes when he stopped with a bad back. Paul Casey withdrew with a shoulder injury after nine holes.
Points’ withdrawal opened the door for first-alternate and former Georgia golfer Brian Harman, who shot 73.
In what PGA Tour official Mark Russell said he’d never seen before in his 31 years with the tour, Points withdrew on the first tee.
“He got up there, and they announced the first player and he played and they announced D.A. and he says, ‘I can’t play.’ And then the starter went ahead and announced the third player,” Russell said.
OTHER PLANS: Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson skipped The Players Championship to bond with his newly adopted son. Dustin Johnson is recovering from a back injury. As for former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel? His agent said he simply didn’t want to come all the way from South Africa. To be at Sawgrass would mean six tournaments in seven weeks and an itinerary that went South Africa-Florida-Spain-England-Ohio-California-Connecticut.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Santo Da Serra, Madeira Islands, Alvaro Velasco shot 8-under-par 64 to lead the Madeira Islands Open. Former Augusta State golfer Oliver Wilson had 66, joining five others at two shots back.