PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Most players attributed Thursday’s low scoring at The Players Championship to a combination of factors, including heat which allowed tee shots to travel exceedingly long, hard fairways and uncharacteristically soft greens.
The first two elements of the scoring trifecta are somewhat the norm at The Players, which has played harder and faster since its move to May in 2007.
The softer greens, however, are curious considering a general lack of rain in the area in recent weeks.
“It’s been softer since Monday. I think the greens are an issue still. They’ve struggled to get them where they need to be,” said Billy Horschel, who lives near TPC Sawgrass and regularly plays the course.
Officials struggled two years ago after a particularly cold and wet winter with the Stadium Course’s greens heading into The Players, and the course will undergo a renovation, including new grass on the greens, after this year’s tournament.
“I think they were afraid to get the greens too firm too soon because then the bad spots were going to show up and they were going to stress the greens too early,” Horschel said. “You would see a lot of imperfections and areas where the ball is not rolling as smoothly. “
A new director of agronomy, Jeff Plotts, was hired last year and Horschel said he’s done “an unbelievable job of getting the greens to roll well.” Horschel, who opened with a 4-under 68, also said he expects the putting surfaces to get firmer over the next three days.