Tommy Fleetwood produced seven birdies as a six-under par 66 helped him revel in a share of the lead at the 49th Players Championship after a testing opening day blighted by rain and lightning delays.
The Southport man was joined at the top of the Players leaderboard by American Tom Hoge, who also enjoyed an eagle on the 2nd hole after sinking birdies on the 12th and 16th having started at the 10th tee.
Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Hoge made further birdies on the 5th, 7th and 9th with his solitary bogey coming on the iconic par-three 17th.
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Fleetwood had earlier began his quest to become the first Englishman to claim the title at Sawgrass and a $3.6m first prize, the richest in golf, with birdies on the 11th, 16th and 18th after going out from the 10th.
Heavy overnight rain had delayed the start of the first round by an hour as the 144-man field were forced to contend with the unpredictable skies overhead.
With play suspended at 11:15am local time (+5 hrs GMT), Fleetwood returned to the sodden Stadium Course over four hours later unperturbed as a third straight birdie on the 2nd catapulted him into the outright lead on five under after moving to minus four with a birdie on the opening hole.
Further birdies on the 5th and 8th consolidated his position at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey on the par-4 6th his only mishap of an otherwise glorious day out in between the heavy thunderstorms.
It was one more than the 65 he shot to lead the tournament after the first round in 2019.
“I can sit on this and feel happy with my work," said 31-year-old Fleetwood, whose last tournament win came at the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge. "I think you just have to make sure you stay ready throughout the week.
“It’s easy to get caught off guard when you’re hanging around for a long time to then all of a sudden have to try to switch it back on. Relax as much as you can and save your energy, but always stay ready and in that mindset that you might be going out at any time.
“I’m chuffed to be in on that score. I felt like I drove the ball well aside from a couple, and I felt like I chipped and putted great. For sure, that was the most I could have got out of the round. So days like that are very, very pleasing.”
World No 1 and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm did not let the weather darken his mood as five birdies and two bogeys saw him sign for a round of 69, three strokes off the lead in a share of 11th place.
Rahm's European Ryder Cup colleague Rory McIlroy managed to complete only two holes, but was level par before the siren sounded as darkness halted play for the day.
18 players have yet to start the first round which is likely to make a Monday finish probable if the weather forecast for more thunderstorms holds up over the weekend.
Harold Varner finished on three under with a 69, but was left to wonder what might have been. He arrived at the 17th tee on seven under before a triple bogey six and a bogey saw him slip back.
"It's a game. That's why we play it," said Varner. "No one is going to die out there. I've always said that. I just was in between clubs and didn't execute the shot, and that's what you get a lot out here. Either you get it done or you don't."
The delayed first round continues at 7:15am in Florida (12:15pm GMT).

Players Championship 1st Round leaderboard

  • Tom Hoge -6
  • Tommy Fleetwood -6
  • Keith Mitchell -5
  • Kramer Hickok -5
  • Joaquin Niemann -5
  • Anirban Lahiri -5
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