A weather delay gave Augusta leader Justin Rose time to reflect on a mixed start to Saturday's play at The Masters.

Rose had led by four strokes after the first round but saw that advantage cut to a single shot on Friday, with Will Zalatoris and Brian Harman his closest challengers.

The one-time major champion was last out on moving day but quickly set about restoring a healthy lead.

Indeed, birdies at the first two holes had Rose three clear at nine under, yet this hot streak did not last.

Rose found the bunker at four and could only rescue a bogey, before befalling the same fate at the fifth, the sand contributing again.

The Englishman recovered with par at the sixth and had just played a solid tee shot at seven when an official approached and sounded the horn to signal an imminent storm.

As play was suspended, Rose was again one ahead of Zalatoris, who was joined at six under by Marc Leishman.

Corey Conners was the day's big mover to that point, in a tie for fourth after playing 11 holes at three under.

Conners' hole in one at the par-three sixth was the highlight, coming straight after the first of two bogeys.

Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama - both one under for the day - were level with Conners, while Harman was back at four under following three bogeys and a birdie through seven.

Jordan Spieth's challenge faltered, although a superb birdie brought him back level with Harman after a double-bogey at seven had threatened to knock him out of contention entirely.

Patrick Reed - two under on Saturday and one under for the week - and Phil Mickelson - three under to reach even par - were among those to complete their rounds before the weather hit.

Justin Rose felt having words with himself and taking a match-play approach was the turning point as he recovered from a poor start to regain the Masters lead on Friday.

Rose started his second round with a four-shot advantage courtesy of a sublime seven-under 65 at Augusta on Thursday.

The Englishman remained on seven under at the end of his second round following a level-par 72, leading Masters debutant Will Zalatoris and Brian Harman by just a solitary stroke.

Rose bogeyed four of his first seven holes on Friday, but three birdies on the back nine returned the former world number to the top of the leaderboard in his pursuit of a first green jacket.

The 2013 U.S. Open champion was content after turning the tide and revealed he gave himself a talking to on the eighth following a shaky start.

He said: "I had a little talk with myself on eight and said 'you're still leading the Masters', and I just changed my mindset a little bit and started to play match play against the golf course.

"I scratched a line on my scorecard and told myself I was three down and could I go ahead and beat the golf course from that point on. I had a putt on 18 to win my match one-up, but unfortunately it just slipped by. But an honourable draw."

He added: "I felt like the turning point for me, a good two-putt on number nine just to stop the rot and just to feel like could then just walk onto the back nine and try to build something fresh and something new. I actually started to play pretty well from that point onwards."

Birdies proved to be easier to come by for the field than during the first round, with Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman among those to make strides as they moved into a share of fourth on five under.

Despite seeing his lead reduced, Rose - who has been troubled by a back injury this year - believes he "grew" during a mixed day.

He said: "I think it was a worthwhile day for me. And not having played for a month, and to suddenly find yourself in the situation I was yesterday, I'm not kind of brimming with confidence right now in that sense, so today was always going to be a challenging day.

"I felt like in the end, I felt like I grew a little bit from today, which is good."

Justin Rose mounted a back-nine recovery to finish his second round with a two-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman.

Rose shot a sublime opening round of 65 at Augusta, but relinquished his four-shot advantage on Friday before returning to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies in his space of four holes.

The Englishman was the man to catch on seven under when he signed for a level-par 72, rallying after bogeying four of the first seven holes in his second round.

Gains at the 13th, 14th and 16th holes gave Rose momentum heading into the weekend as he bids to don the green jacket for the first time.

The in-form Spieth surged into a share of second place with Australian Leishman by carding a four-under 68, with birdies proving easier to come by for the field than on the opening day.

Three-time major champion Spieth, on a high after ending a title drought stretching back to 2017 at the Texas Open last weekend, made four of his five birdies after the turn and only dropped one shot at the 12th.

Leishman also made a significant move, setting the tone by starting with three birdies in row and going on to shoot a five-under 67.

Scintillating six-under rounds of 66 from Bernd Wiesberger and Tony Finau put them just three shots adrift of Rose along with Justin Thomas, who shot a 67.

Will Zalatoris, Brian Harman and Si Woo Kim were also well poised on four under, with their rounds still in progress. Defending champion Dustin Johnson had work to do back on three over through 10.

Bryson DeChambeau responded to a poor opening round with a 67 of his own to sit at one over, while Brooks Koepka (+5) and Rory McIlroy (+6) were facing a battle to make the cut 10 and eight holes into their rounds respectively.

Lee Westwood was a couple of shots below the projected cut mark on five over midway through his round.

Justin Rose surged into a four-shot lead as Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were among the big names to endure first-round struggles at The Masters.

Rose was two over through seven holes in tough scoring conditions, with quicker and firmer Augusta greens proving a much bigger challenge than when Dustin Johnson won the tournament with a record score of 20 under last November.

The Englishman sparked into life with an eagle at the par-five eighth hole and lit up the back nine to card a magnificent seven-under 65, the lowest Masters round of his career, with patrons allowed back in under blue skies.

Rose, eyeing a maiden Masters title, got on a roll with seven birdies in nine holes before finishing with a composed par to retain his four-stroke advantage.

Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama shared the early clubhouse lead with impressive three-under opening rounds of 69 before Rose stormed clear.

Defending champion Johnson shot a two-over 74 following a double bogey at the 18th, having made a bogey-birdie start before getting in the red for the first time at 13.

Masters debutant Will Zalatoris, Webb Simpson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Patrick Reed will start their second rounds on two under following encouraging starts, while new father Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele are among a clutch of players at level par.

McIlroy suffered a miserable opening round and is back on four over, facing a battle to make the cut rather than fight it out to complete a career Grand Slam, while U.S. Open champion DeChambeau was four over through 15.

Jordan Spieth was left to rue a triple-bogey after launching a wayward tee shot into the trees at the ninth but was in a share of eighth on one under after chipping in for an eagle at 15, while Justin Thomas was a further stroke back through 15.

Brooks Koepka matched Johnson's 74 just a few weeks after undergoing knee surgery and the previously in-form Lee Westwood is languishing on six over.

Tommy Fleetwood generated a roar from those fortunate enough to be at the 16th to see him make a hole-in-one before he signed for a 74.

The 85th Masters got under way on Thursday with Dustin Johnson waiting in the wings to defend his title at Augusta.

Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Elder signalled the opening of the 2021 tournament, which officially began with twosome Michael Thompson and Hudson Swafford teeing off.

Reigning champion Johnson, who secured his second major with an imperious victory in Georgia five months ago, will tee off at 10:30 local time (14:30 GMT) alongside two-time runner-up Lee Westwood and U.S. Amateur Championship winner Tyler Strafaci.

The world number one has earned top-10 finishes at each of his past five Masters outings and holds the tournament scoring record after his stunning 20-under 268 last November.

Johnson is aiming to become the first man since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002 to win consecutive green jackets.

Though Woods is absent as he continues his recovery from a recent car accident, Johnson will face stiff competition from the likes of Jordan Spieth.

The 2015 champion ended a 1,351-day wait for a PGA Tour victory at the Texas Open last week and will head out in the final group to tee off at 14:00 local time (18:00 GMT), along with US PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa and Cameron Smith.

Rory McIlroy has a career Grand Slam in his sights and his bid to become the sixth golfer to achieve the feat begins with new father Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele for company.

The Northern Irishman is still waiting for a maiden green jacket but boasts a strong record in the event, having finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven editions.

Brooks Koepka will play with Bubba Watson and Viktor Hovland, while Bryson DeChambeau joins Adam Scott and Max Homa.

Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and Louis Oosthuizen form another group, with Sergio Garcia starting alongside Webb Simpson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, while Patrick Reed will measure himself against Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.

Phil Mickelson, the man with the most major titles (five) in the field as Woods is absent, will appear alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Scottie Scheffler.

Reigning Masters champion Dustin Johnson has been grouped with two-time runner-up Lee Westwood to begin his title defence on Thursday.

Johnson returns to Augusta just five months on from a dominant triumph, his second major triumph after the 2016 U.S. Open.

The world number one, who has finished in the top 10 in his past five Masters appearances, set a scoring record with his sensational 20-under 268 for the week back in November.

As Johnson aims to become the first man since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002 to win consecutive green jackets, he will start alongside Englishman Westwood and, as is tradition, U.S. Amateur Championship winner Tyler Strafaci.

The groupings and tee times were confirmed on Tuesday, with Johnson's trio going out at 10:30 EDT.

Jordan Spieth, who ended a 1,351-day wait for a PGA Tour victory at the Texas Open last week, will be in the final group to tee off at 14:00 EDT, along with US PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa and Cameron Smith.

Rory McIlroy's latest bid to become the sixth golfer to claim a career Grand Slam sees him start straight after Johnson at 10:42 EDT.

McIlroy has finished in the top 10 at Augusta in six of his past seven appearances but is famously still waiting for a first victory, while his major drought stands at 22 events.

An intriguing group has the Northern Irishman playing alongside Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele.

Brooks Koepka will play with Bubba Watson and Viktor Hovland, while Bryson DeChambeau joins Adam Scott and Max Homa.

Justin Thomas has Tony Finau and Louis Oosthuizen for company, Sergio Garcia starts alongside Webb Simpson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Patrick Reed will measure himself against Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.

Phil Mickelson, the man with the most major titles (five) in the field as Woods is absent, will appear alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Scottie Scheffler.

Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Elder will get the tournament under way, with twosome Michael Thompson and Hudson Swafford the first competitors involved.

Jordan Spieth described his Texas Open victory as "monumental" after the former world number one finally snapped a title drought lasting almost four years.

After waiting 1,351 days, Spieth celebrated a victory thanks to Sunday's triumph at the Texas Open, where the three-time major champion won for the first time since the 2017 Open Championship.

Spieth posted a six-under-par 66, which included seven birdies, for a two-stroke win ahead of Charley Hoffman and his 12th PGA Tour crown.

"This is a monumental win for me," Spieth – 2015 Augusta winner – said ahead of the Masters, which gets underway on April 8. "It's been a long road. There were a lot of times that I didn't know I would be here."

The 27-year-old and 2015 Texas Open runner-up became the 92nd player in Tour history to reach 12 wins and moved into a tie for 82nd on the all-time list.

Five players in the last 40 years have earned 12 titles before turning 28 – Phil Mickelson (27 years and 209 days), Tiger Woods (23 years and 243 days), Rory McIlroy (27 years and 124 days), Justin Thomas (26 years and 251 days) and now Spieth (27 years and 251 days).

Spieth added: "There's peaks and valleys in this sport, but I never expected to go this long.

"Back then, in between wins, maybe I took things more for granted than I should have. It's very difficult to win out here and I'll certainly enjoy this one as much as I have any other."

Spieth threatened to break through this year, having either been leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively.

"I've had a chance on Sundays three or four different times in the last two months, and today was by far the best that I played," Spieth said.

"Just to see those putts go in, I felt like I was doing everything right those other Sundays and I hit good putts and they wouldn't go in. Today I hit a couple that I didn't quite strike very well but they went in."

Jordan Spieth returned to the winners' circle and just in time for the upcoming Masters after celebrating a drought-ending Texas Open victory.

Not since winning the 2017 Open Championship had former world number one Spieth claimed a title on the PGA Tour.

But American star Spieth – tied for the lead at the end of the third round – ended his agonising wait at TPC San Antonio on Sunday following 1,351 days.

Spieth snapped a slump that lasted almost four years, posting a six-under-par 66 and seven birdies for a two-stroke victory ahead of Charley Hoffman (66) at 18 under overall.

Three-time major champion Spieth will now return to Augusta – the scene of his 2015 triumph – on April 8 with renewed confidence after emerging from the wilderness.

Spieth – who threatened to break through this year, having either been leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively – earned his 12th PGA Tour title.

The 27-year-old and 2015 Texas Open runner-up became the 92nd player in Tour history to reach 12 wins and moved into a tie for 82nd on the all-time list.

Five players in the last 40 years have earned 12 titles before turning 28 – Phil Mickelson (27 years and 209 days), Tiger Woods (23 years and 243 days), Rory McIlroy (27 years and 124 days), Justin Thomas (26 years and 251 days) and now Spieth (27 years and 251 days).

Hoffman – the 2016 champion – threatened to derail Spieth's bid to end his long wait, having moved within a shot of the lead before the latter birdied the 17th hole.

Spieth made Hoffman settle for back-to-back runners-up cheques after he finished second in 2019 prior to the 2020 event being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Matt Wallace (70) finished outright third and four shots adrift of Spieth, two strokes better off than Lucas Glover (66).

Former world number one Jordan Spieth has put himself in another great position to end his title drought after closing the Texas Open third round tied for the lead.

Spieth has not claimed a trophy since 2017, with the three-time major champion often struggling for form on the PGA Tour.

But no other player has more 54-hole lead/co-leads on Tour this season after American star Spieth earned his third on Saturday.

Spieth carded a five-under-par 67 to be level with Englishman Matt Wallace (67) atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds at TPC San Antonio, where they are two strokes clear.

Texas Open runner-up in 2015, Spieth was either leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively this year.

Spieth, who is nine for 18 in his career converting to victory when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, was red-hot on the back nine, where he did not drop a shot – tallying five birdies, including his final two holes to join Wallace at the summit.

"I didn't feel like I had great control of the golf ball," Spieth said after birdieing five of his last seven holes. "I left the ball in the right spots when it was missed and really, I did a great job managing today."

Charley Hoffman – the 2016 winner – climbed 11 positions up to third and only two strokes behind Spieth and Wallace following his third-round 65.

Cameron Tringale lost his spot at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a 73 to be outright fourth and four shots adrift, while Anirban Lahiri (69) is a stroke further back heading into the final round.

Defending champion Corey Conners finds himself eight shots behind following a five-under-par 67 – a stroke better off than Rickie Fowler (69).

American world number 99 Cameron Tringale backed up his strong opening day at the Texas Open with a three-under 69 on Friday to take a two-shot lead into the weekend.

Tringale, 33, has never claimed a PGA Tour victory but has set himself up perfectly, two shots ahead of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and Matt Wallace.

The 12-year veteran bogeyed his opening two holes on Friday after sitting equal second after day one but responded with five straight birdies in his fourth to eighth holes.

"I just hit a lot of really good iron shots to those holes," Tringale said. “I think my furthest putt was 4 feet, so just good approaches to the green... I took advantage most of the time.”

First day leader Camilo Villegas slipped five shots back after shooting a 76, while Texas native Spieth looms after putting together two good days as he chases his first title since 2017.

The former world number one shot a two-under 70, although he started strong with two birdies including an approach within 10 feet on the first before slowing up.

"I thought the start was key for me, and I got off to a great start," Spieth said. "I put some really good swings on the ball after kind of being a little sloppy at the end of yesterday’s round."

He added: "I’m really pleased with where things are at, but they’re not where I want them to be at."

Equal second Wallace is another yet to win on the PGA Tour but he moved into contention after a four-under 68 which included no bogeys.

"Whenever you go bogey free, whatever golf course it is, it’s nice, but especially here," Wallace said.

A group of four players are two shots behind Spieth and Wallace, with Kevin Stadler, Kyle Stanley, Erik van Rooyen and Brandt Snedeker who had a birdie-birdie finish.

Matt Kuchar and Villegas are among the next group of six at four-under, while Charley Hoffman shot a day two best 66 to be tied at three-under.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson was unable to recover from his horror first round which was ruined by taking a 10 on the 18th and missed the cut.

Colombian Camilo Villegas got the jump on the field on the opening day of the Texas Open after shooting an eight-under 64 with Jordan Spieth among those not far behind.

After starting on the back nine with a bogey, Villegas hit six birdies in seven holes, including sinking a 20-foot putt on his 13th to claim a solid lead at TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course on Thursday.

Villegas is two shots ahead of South Korean Sung Kang and American Cameron Tringale who both had a 66.

Three-time Major winner Spieth is equal third on 65, alongside Noh Seung-Yul and Hideki Matsuyama.

"Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't," Villegas said. "The last few years I've been up and down with many things. We keep showing up and the results start showing up."

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson had a nightmare when he had a 10 on the par-five 18th to finish the day 15 shots back to end up 79.

Mickelson took two penalty shots and another three strokes trying to navigate a greenside stream and nearby rocks on the last and faces a battle to make the cut.

Kang started slow but hit an eagle on his 11th hole, jarring a 30-foot putt after two fantastic set-up shots on the par-five. He birdied three of his final four holes.

"I struggled a little bit with a new driver from the start, but I found a way to hit it on the back nine so started driving a lot better," Kang said.

Tringale made seven birdies including four on the back nine to finish with his six-under 66 to be firmly in contention.

Spieth had seven birdies and two bogeys in his round, including a bright start where he birdied three of his first five.

The Texan, who is now ranked 67th, is looking for his first win since the 2017 Open Championship.

"Overall with the score, I certainly would have signed up for five-under starting out," Spieth said.

"Five-under around this track is a good score. I'd take four more of them."

Matsuyama rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the eighth as he put together a strong round along with Noh, who is yet to make a cut this season.

Rory McIlroy played a tee shot into a swimming pool during a shocking start to his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play campaign, where he was hammered 6 and 5 by Ian Poulter.

The Northern Irishman has had well documented issues with his swing in recent weeks and has linked up with renowned coach Pete Cowen for the tournament at the Austin Country Club.

But McIlroy struggled badly during his round-robin opener against fellow Europe Ryder Cup star Poulter and was already two down by the time he pulled his tee shot wildly left at the fifth tee, with his ball sinking into the pool at a nearby house.

He managed to claw within one by the eighth, but Poulter then won five holes in a row to condemn McIlroy to a heavily opening defeat in Group 11, where Cameron Smith beat Lanto Griffin in the pool's other opener.

Dustin Johnson had no such woe as he started with a 2 Up win over Adam Long in Group One, while Jon Rahm defeated Sebastian Munoz 1 Up (Group 3), and Bryson DeChambeau overcame Antoine Rozner 2 Up (Group 5).

Justin Thomas was beaten 3 and 2 by Matt Kuchar (Group 2), though, while Jordan Spieth outclassed Matthew Fitzpatrick 3 and 1 (Group 15) despite a comedy moment when he drove the 15th green…but from the 13th tee.

Justin Thomas claimed a one-stroke victory at The Players Championship after a run of three birdies and an eagle across four holes unseated overnight leader Lee Westwood on Sunday.

World number three and American star Thomas – fuelled by a four-under-par 64 – headed into the final round at TPC Sawgrass three strokes adrift of Westwood.

Westwood (72) had finished second at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, trailing Bryson DeChambeau (71), who was his nearest competitor again at the end of Saturday's play.

Westwood would be a runner-up once more, but this time was bested by Thomas, who stormed into the lead thanks to a frantic spell.

Westwood lacked momentum throughout his round and was back at 12 under – one over for the day – at the turn when Thomas took flight.

Thomas bogeyed the eighth but responded with a birdie at the ninth and suddenly found form.

He made three at the par-four 10th and then, with the day's decisive putt, claimed the lead outright with an eagle from 19 feet at 11. Another birdie at the next hole secured breathing space.

Although Westwood recovered to end the day as he started it, at 13 under, there was only a brief Thomas wobble with bogey at 14 followed by birdie at 16.

Thomas, who has a single major title at the 2017 US PGA Championship, claimed a maiden triumph at The Players and returned to the winner's circle for the first time since August's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

It is also Thomas' 14th PGA Tour triumph, becoming the fourth player since 1960 to win 14 times on Tour before turning 28 – joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.

"I fought so hard today," said Thomas, who tied the lowest final 36-hole score in Players history with his 64-68 (132) over the weekend. "I stayed patient. It was probably one of the best rounds of my life, tee to green."

Brian Harman used a final-round 69 to finish tied for third alongside U.S. Open champion DeChambeau – two shots behind Thomas.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson (71) and Jason Day (73) were among the players to end the tournament 35th in the standings, 11 shots off the pace.

Dustin Johnson (71) – the world number one – climbed up into a tie for 48th at one under, a stroke better off than Jordan Spieth (75), who is still without a win since 2017.

Rory McIlroy admitted chasing Bryson DeChambeau's power cost him after the four-time major champion comfortably missed the cut at The Players Championship as Lee Westwood produced a flawless performance to lead the way.

DeChambeau's power play at last year's U.S. Open has changed golf for many across the PGA and European Tours, with former world number one McIlroy trying to add length to his game.

But defending Players champion McIlroy, without a win since 2019, missed the cut by 10 strokes on Friday – a second-round 75 adding to his opening 79 at TPC Sawgrass.

After another forgettable day, which included a double-bogey, three bogeys and two birdies, McIlroy explained his struggles, telling reporters: "Probably, like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long and too rotational.

"Obviously I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn't a good thing. So I'm sort of fighting to get back out of that. That’s what I'm frustrated with."

McIlroy added: "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't anything to do with what Bryson did at the US Open. I think a lot of people saw that and were like, 'Whoa, if this is the way they're going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps'.

"The one thing that people don't appreciate is how good Bryson is out of the rough. Not only because of how upright he is but because his short irons are longer than standard, so he can get a little more speed through the rough than us, than other guys.

"I thought being able to get some more speed is a good thing and maybe just to the detriment a little bit of my swing, I got there. I just need to maybe rein it back in a little bit."

Westwood had no such trouble during the second round – the Englishman using a six-under-par 66 to earn a one-stroke lead at nine under before darkness suspended play.

After finishing second at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, Westwood roared to the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes via a dazzling round, which included six birdies and no bogeys.

It is the third time Westwood has led after two rounds at The Players Championship – in 2005 and 2010 – but he is yet to win.

The 47-year-old is a two-time PGA Tour champion, though his last success came in 2010.

Countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick (68) is a stroke off the pace, one shot ahead of Chris Kirk (65) and Sergio Garcia (72), who led after the opening round.

U.S. Open champion and Arnold Palmer Invitational winner DeChambeau posted a second-round 69 to be tied for fifth at six under.

World number one Dustin Johnson's second round in the 70s catapulted him up 22 positions into a tie for 36th, eight shots behind Westwood, while Jordan Spieth (74) is a stroke further back.

Xander Schauffele (74) was among the stars to miss the cut – the American's Tour-best streak of 23 consecutive made cuts coming to an end.

Sergio Garcia earned a two-stroke lead thanks to a late surge in the opening round of The Players Championship, while defending champion Rory McIlroy endured a nightmare start.

An 18-foot eagle at the final hole propelled Garcia to the round of the day – a seven-under-par 65 – and top spot on Thursday.

Garcia, who won the Players in 2008 and lost a play-off in 2015, gained four strokes from his last three holes in Ponte Vedra Beach, where play was suspended due to darkness.

Masters champion in 2017, Garcia had eagles at the 16th and ninth holes (both par-fives) for his first round at TPC Sawgrass with multiple eagles – his 77th career round.

It is also Garcia's first 65 or better at the venue since 2013, after the Spanish star was almost late for his opening-round tee time.

"I thought I had plenty of time. Obviously I left the range at 7:35, I was teeing off at 7:40 so I figured it's going to take me probably two, three minutes at most to get to 10," Garcia said. 

"I don't know if the clock on the range was behind or something, but when I got to the putting green just like 50 yards short of 10 I kind of looked at it and the sun was coming up so I couldn't see if it was 7:38 or 7:39 but just in case I just took a little stroll, made sure that I got there before it turned to [7:40]."

Brian Harman is five under heading into the second round, a shot clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Corey Conners and Shane Lowry at the PGA Tour event, where 21 players will complete their first rounds on Friday morning.

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who claimed last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, opened with a first-round 69, highlighted by six birdies.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Jason Day are among 14 players tied for 12th position at two under, while Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas are a stroke further back.

World number one Dustin Johnson signed for a 73, but McIlroy had a quadruple-bogey eight on his card as the former world number one posted a seven-over-par 79.

Still the defending champion after last year's tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, McIlroy returned and struggled dramatically after two balls found water.

McIlroy recorded 43 on the back nine – his first nine – tying the highest opening nine-hole score of his PGA Tour career (677th round).

Henrik Stenson had an even worse day than McIlroy, with an 85 from Sweden's former Open champion featuring two double bogeys and two triples and three balls in the water.

It marked the highest score of Stenson's Tour career, eclipsing his previous high of 83.

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