PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Blake Adams was right where he wanted to be starting the first round of The Players Championship – in the first group off the first tee at 7:15 a.m.
“It’s obviously a great place to be the first group out,” said Adams, a former Georgia Southern golfer who lives in Nunez, Ga., located just outside of Swainsboro. “You have fresh greens and you know, the wind usually lays down for a little bit,“
Adams responded with 6-under-par 66, which held up as the clubhouse lead until Ian Poulter, in the eighth group off No. 1, shot 65.
Poulter’s 65 was later matched by Martin Laird.
The 36-year-old Adams, who is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, has become accustomed to being one of the PGA Tour’s early starters, or “dew sweepers.”
“Fortunately, I’m in that spot quite a bit out here, which is nice,” he said. “I’ve always been a pretty fast player. I’m pretty laid back. I look like I’m in slow motion, but I play relatively fast compared to other players out here.
“So I think they kind of stick me in that spot first off a lot, which is nice. I kind of set the pace, you know, as far as time goes. You rarely wait on a shot. “
His 66 was highlighted by five consecutive birdies (Nos. 5-9) on the front nine, where he shot 31.
“Any time you can do that, it obviously makes life a little easier,” said Adams, referring to his five consecutive birdies.
One of those birdies came on the par-3 eighth hole, which was playing to 230 yards.
He knocked a 4-iron to within 15 feet of the hole and made it.
“I was just very, very fortunate to make the putt and just move on,” Adams said.
Adams is happy living in Nunez, which he says has “130 people and no red lights.”
It presents quite a contrast to the lifestyle of the normal PGA Tour player.
“All of these guys out here live among these gated, fancy golf courses, and we live among deer and turkeys and dirt roads,” said Adams, who lives on a 350-acre plot of land and flies out of the Savannah, Ga., airport most times.
“When I go home, I’m a million miles from everything and everybody,” he said. “But we are simple folks and we just like the quietness. We don’t need the glitz and glamour.”