PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - The so-called ‘super group’ at the Players Championship turned into a super flop as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler fizzled in the first round on Thursday.
Woods was best of the bunch with an even-par 72 but that was hardly what the PGA Tour had in mind when it grouped the best two players of their generation with the popular Fowler at TPC Sawgrass.
What started as a massive early afternoon gallery thinned out to only a few hundred spectators by the 15th hole, though considerably more waited at the island-green par-three 17th for some end-of-day fireworks.
They instead saw damp squibs, as Mickelson and Fowler both found water at the 17th for matching double-bogeys.
Woods, meanwhile, safely negotiated the penultimate hole with a par, only to yank an iron tee shot into the water at the par-four 18th, his safety-first strategy backfiring.
He did well to salvage bogey, ending the day six strokes behind the six tied for the lead, who include world number one Dustin Johnson and Swede Alex Noren.
Woods at least gave fans one moment of excitement when he rolled in a 20-foot putt for eagle from the fringe at the par-five ninth.
“Boy, it was nice to turn the round completely around there,” he said, before assessing the gallery.
“They were into it early. Towards the back nine it started getting a little sparse. I think they might have tipped back a couple and got a little sleepy.”
The quality of the golf did little to keep fans awake.
Fowler shot 74, while Mickelson signed for a 79 after dropping seven shots in four holes from the 14th.
Mickelson looked more like an office worker than a golf pro in his long-sleeve buttoned shirt, and like many a middle-aged salary man, he had an afternoon energy issue.
“I was worried about energy this week. And I just kind of ran out at the end,” he said.
The same threesome will be back for a Friday morning encore, when Woods expects them to strike some better notes.
“If it stays calm in the morning, you’ll see a bunch of guys go low,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ian Ransom