The other star of the day at Sawgrass was Spieth, who posted a 7-under 65, a career-best at The Players Championship, to make a surge up the leaderboard just like Woods.
Joining Johnson atop the leaderboard at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, were fellow US Open victor Webb Simpson, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay and in-form Swede Alex Noren.
Stricker conceded when he's playing a Champions Tour event, he keeps an eye on the goings-on at the coinciding PGA Tour event and asks himself: "What am I doing here?"
"I feel I can play good on this golf course".
"It was disappointing that I didn't get the (Masters) result I wanted, but I took a lot of positives from the fact that I probably didn't have my best stuff at Augusta and I still was able to play my way into the final group and contend", McIlroy said. "You know, when I was trying to deal with the nerve in my back and trying to come back and trying to play and I wasn't very good, he always texted me some very encouraging words". He finished with a par on 18 to seal his record-tying round. But the man from Bengaluru had his "Tin Cup" moment that scarred his soul.
Spieth concedes he made bad swings on the 11th and 16th, two of his three balls in the water. "I expect to play well still, so I don't think this is insane what I'm doing, you know, in my mind". That was also the last time he played on the weekend at Sawgrass.
The rest of the players on the Tour should be a bit concerned that Day, now healthy, notched his second win of the season without really putting his game all together. The Aussie won the Players in 2016, firing a course record 63 on his way to victory.
Spieth teed off about an hour before Woods and did not start as spectacularly.
The trio started with six-under rounds of 66 at TPC Sawgrass to hold a one-shot advantage over defending champion Si Woo Kim, Jhonattan Vegas, Keith Mitchell and Rory Sabbatini.
Cowen, who has worked with past Players Championship winners and major champions Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia, likes what he sees in Kiradech after starting work with the Thai at the beginning of previous year. The relatively new greens played havoc with many in the field, including Tiger Woods, who couldn't get any momentum on the greens, despite a third round 68. We have got this event here, I've never won this, I would love to put this on my CV.
After a year and two months at the top of the rankings, Dustin Johnson is starting to look fragile. But you start to appreciate the design of the golf course and appreciate the game-plan and the tactics you need to be successful around here.
The course is located on the north coast of Florida and the ocean brings winds into the equation.
You never expect there to be an overwhelming favorite when the field is as deep as it is this week, but the fact that there are four co-favorites is indicative of the landscape of golf right now. That was previous year, and he had to close with a 68 to finish that high.
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