Unlikely leader at Players Championship

May 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM   |   Comments

PONTE VERDE BEACH, Fla., May 9 (UPI) -- Roberto Castro became the surprise leader in record-equaling fashion Thursday and Tiger Woods joined Rory McIlroy near the top at The Players Championship.

Castro, a second-year member of the PGA Tour who has only one Top 10 finish in his brief career, shot a 9-under 63 at the TPC-Sawgrass course to grab a three-shot lead after the opening round of golf's most lucrative event.

That tied the course record shared by World Hall of Fame members Fred Couples (1992) and Greg Norman (1994).

Castro eagled the par-5 second and did not suffer a bogey on a mild, calm day in which 67 players in the 145-man field broke par.

McIlroy, who had never shot under par on the course before and who missed the cut in his other three appearances at this tournament, fired a 66 to share second place with Zach Johnson.

Woods, ranked No. 1 in the world in front of McIlroy, was in the group at 67 after suffering a bogey at the closing hole. Woods turned in his lowest first-round score in 16 trips to The Players, recording birdies on all four of the par-5 holes.

Casey Wittenberg, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Ryan Palmer and current U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson also turned in a 67.

Masters winner Adam Scott, playing for the first time since he put on the green jacket at the Augusta National Golf Club last month, shot a 69 while defending champion Matt Kuchar had a 71.

Vijay Singh, who sued the PGA Tour earlier this week concerning its investigation into his admitted use of deer antler spray, posted a 74.

McIlroy birdied five of the first eight holes to create his excellent round.

"It was benign out there," McIlroy said. "There wasn't much wind. It was perfect conditions for scoring and I was able to take advantage of those."

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