Each opened in 6-under-par 65 at the Champions Golf Club. Five shots back is a wounded Tiger Woods.
Woods went to the fitness trailer Wednesday and felt some discomfort in the right region of his lower back ' an area he said has never bothered him before.
It just started acting up yesterday and just one of those things that you have to go out there and deal with it, Woods said following his round.
Woods played through a painful first round, making adjustments to try and alleviate the aches. He was forced to bend at the knees to pick his ball out of the hole and place his tee in the ground.
Still, he managed to score a 1-under 70.
The hardest time is when youre standing around. Its fine walking, the problem is when I have to rotate or bend over, and thats an integral part of the game, Woods said with a laugh.
The way I was feeling today if someone were to tell me would you take under par and go home, Id say yes. I was very thankful and very lucky to end up under par and I got a good shot at winning this tournament.
Ill get it fixed tonight and hopefully tomorrow Ill be 100 percent.
Woods said he planned to see Tom Boers, the back specialist who has worked for Davis Love III, Fred Couples and Ernie Els.
If the problem persists, Woods didnt rule out a possible withdrawal. When asked if he could play four days under these conditions, he replied, Who knows? I really dont know. I just hope I feel better, lets put it that way.
If Woods were to withdraw during his round, it would cost him the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on tour. A player with an incomplete round is ineligible for the award.
If you are hurt, you are hurt. If you cant go, you cant go, he said.
Lickliter also said he felt uncomfortable Thursday, but for a greatly different reason. This years Kemper Open champion was altering his swing on the range. And though he felt uneasy about his shot making, he was utterly pleased with the results.
I am happy, he said, without disclosing what it was he was working on. I felt very uncomfortable on basically every shot I hit, which isnt a bad thing because you have to pay attention.
Its when you get really comfortable that you dont know exactly what you are doing.
Its funny, because that was the first shot I had anything to think about, Sutton said. Drove it in the edge of the right rough ' water on the left, tree in front of me. So I had to stand there and look at the shot. I gotta think about it. It takes more than a dumbass to hit the shot, basically.
Feeling rushed, Sutton left his approach shot 75 feet from the hole on one of the course's many massive greens and proceeded to three-putt for his first bogey of the day.
From there, he also bogeyed the par-3 16th and double bogeyed the par-4 17th to finish with a round of 1-under 70.
After signing his scorecard, he spent over ten minutes discussing the situation with Shea.
Im probably the fastest player out here, thats whats so bad and thats why the system is flawed, because its always the fast player that speeds up, Sutton said; though, he didnt put any of the blame on playing companion Billy Mayfair.
So how do you fix the system if it is flawed? Sutton said its simple ' address the slow-playing individual.
We all know who the slow players are, we know exactly who they are, he said. They know who they are and we know who they are. So if we cant do something like that, then we have problems.
Ironically, Langer is known quite well for his meticulous manner.
This is the first time since 1988 that the 44-year-old German has played a full schedule (at least 15 events) on the PGA Tour. And hes played incredibly well, especially in the years biggest events.
Langer finished third in The Players Championship, tied for sixth in the Masters Tournament and tied for third in the British Open. Add those results to two more top-3 finishes in the states, and a pair of victories overseas, and Langer is having his best campaign since a four-win season on the European Tour in 1997.
A lot of people say why am I playing so good? I have played like this for many, many years. Its just the last three years I hadnt played quite this well and now I feel I am playing again the way I played from 1985 through 1997, said Langer, who has 42 worldwide wins, including a pair of Masters titles (1985, 93).
Langer gave much of the credit for his resurgence to the fact that he has 14 new clubs in his bag, as well as a new golf ball. He also stated he hasnt lost that competitive desire.
I think I am just as motivated as I was, he said. I love being competitive. I enjoy being out there competing with the other guys and its great fun when you are having a good year.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Woods is scheduled to tee of Friday at 11:39 a.m. local time with Love, who is also battling a bad back. Langer and Lickliter will tee off at 1:00 p.m.
*Steve Stricker started horribly Thursday, with a quintuple bogey on the par-3 4th. He was 7-over-par through seven holes, but birdied four of the next seven holes and finished with a 3-over 74.
*20 of the 29 players in the field broke par in the first round. Sutton was the lone player to card an eagle, doing so on the par-5 10th.
*Though the field is reduced to the top 30 players on the money list, no one outside the top 20 has won since Jim Gallagher, Jr. (21st) in 1993. Langer is 24th on the money list, while Lickliter is 19th.