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Poulter and Laird take joint control at Players

World number one Rory McIlroy had to settle for an even-par 72.

World number one Rory McIlroy had to settle for an even-par 72.
Tiger Woods,Rory McIlroy,Northern Irelands Rory McIlroy,Ian Poulter,TPC Sawgrass,Martin Laird,Kevin Na,Ben Crane,Blake Adams
Sport

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Britain's Ian Poulter and Martin Laird shared the lead at the Players Championship after firing seven-under-par rounds of 65 in Thursday's opening round.

World number one Rory McIlroy had to settle for an even-par 72 after finding water at the par-three 17th, famous for its island green, while Tiger Woods risks missing consecutive cuts for the first time as a pro after shooting a two-over 74.

American Blake Adams' six-under-par 66 set the early pace at sun-blessed TPC Sawgrass while compatriots Kevin Na and Ben Crane were lurking a further shot back at an event that is widely regarded as golf's unofficial fifth major.

Laird was the only player to finish the challenging course bogey-free and once again his accomplished putting was the key.

"Any time you go around this golf course bogey-free is obviously a very good day," said Laird, who won in Florida last year, clinching the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

"I missed a few greens out there from good spots in the middle of the fairways but managed to scramble really well and chipped them up close enough ... but the key was the putter and any time I had a chance for birdie, I rolled it in."

Poulter, who finished second here in 2009, made just one bogey and had a run of nine single putt holes in what was a confident round.

"It was a very, very good round of golf. That's definitely in the top 10 of the rounds of golf I've ever played," he said.

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