I just ran into my old swing coach, GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Teacher Brian Mogg, out behind the 18th green. The Golf Channel guru had been following one of his more successful pupils, Bart Bryant, who shot a first-round 73 in the Players.
“Bart hit a lot of really good shots,” Brian said, “but the greens were incredibly firm. He hit a hybrid on 14 that landed 40-feet short of the green and then ran off the back. He hit a 6- or a 7-iron on 15 that landed pin high and went 40-feet long.”
Brian’s advice? “I would seriously think of switching to a softer ball, just to get it to stop a little faster.”The conditions, Brian added, favor great ball strikers like Sergio Garcia (currently leading with a 66) and Kenny Perry (in with a 68). “I’m not surprised they’re at the top of the board right now,” he said. “You really have to be able to control your ball.”
I overheard another cogent bit of analysis from Paul Goydos, who is in with a 68 of his own. Praising the course setup, Goydos said he prefers the short bermuda rough at the Players to the ankle deep rye and fescue roughs at certain major championships. Why? Because deep rough leaves a player with only one option -- a wedge back to the fairway. Shorter rough, on the other hand, forces the golfer to think.
“And when golfers have got to make decisions,” he added with a smile, “they’re generally going to screw it up.”