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Players Championship Live Coverage: Round 1 with Alan Bastable

Round 1 Scores | Photos | Preview | Course Profile | TV Schedule 7:00 pm Paul Casey says this is the easiest he's ever seen Sawgrass play. The stats back him up, with 62 players at 1-under or better. Okay, I'm outta here. C'mon back tomorrow for more live-blog coverage starting at 1 p.m. Don't worry -- Shipnuck's done for the week.   6:52 pm Ouch. Fowler's 18th: A too-straight drive into the right rough + a pull-hook approach into the drink + a bladed wedge over the green + a chunky chip that stops 12 feet above the hole + one putt = a double-bogey 6. Damn you, Pete Dye!   6:44 pm Charles Howell III is in the field? How?6:40 pm Tiger chats with a very sympathetic Steve Sands, who promises Woods "we won't talk about that drive on 18." Uh, why not? Tiger said he felt okay about his day, and that he just "grinded" his way around. When asked about all the chatter about the state of his swing, Woods scoffed: "When I've played six competitive rounds in seven months -- [laughs] -- people need to be realistic." 6:33 pm Tiger makes his bogey at 18. In other news, Rickie Fowler's pastel Pumas look like something you might slip on a Cabbage Patch Kid.  6:28 pm Sergio Garcia is having a nice round -- 2-under through 17 holes (he started on No. 10). If I told you Sergio will win three majors in his career, would you take the under or the over? I'd go under.6:23 pm Tiger takes his drops from the drink and from 203 yards leaves himself a 20-footer for par. Not the finish he wanted. Then again, it's a giant leap from his woeful play at Quail Hollow. I wonder if he's having any degree of fun out there? Doesn't look it.

6:15 pm Exclamation! Points! Are! Fun!6:14 pm Splash! Tiger curls his tee shot at 18 into the water. There, most likely, goes his bogey-less round.  6:12 pm Lake Cam! There's a camera literally in the lake at 17. Cool.6:10 pm As Tiger strolls to the green, however, the fans chirp up. A warm round of applause. A few "Go, Tigers!" It's amazing -- seems just weeks ago we were expecting the worst for TW when he faced galleries anywhere outside of Augusta. Today it seems like the scandal never happened. Woods misses his birdie try to stay at 2-under. Onto 18...       6 pm Since 2003, TW has played the 17th in 6-over-par -- with three water balls. No problems today. He squeezes his tee shot in 10 feet right of the hole. First guy I've seen today land it right of the stick -- there's virtually no room over there. Cheers? Jeers? Not much of either.    5:53 pm Tiger makes his par after a two-putt from 25 feet. Big moment upcoming: Tiger on the 17th tee. What to expect? Cheers or jeers?   5:48 pm Woods ended up blowing that tee shot at the par-5 16th into the right rough. His second shot was worse. Trying to play a cut around an oak tree, he instead pulled it hard left. What will Phil Tiger do next? 5:42 pm Signs of the new Zen Tiger after a photographer disturbs him on the 16th tee. "Would you mind not taking a picture?" Woods asked. "Thanks." Man, that's a long way from Stevie going all Van Damme on a Nikon.    5:36 pm Whatever happened to Chad Campbell? You won't find out this week. He carded a 75 today, another listless start for the low-key Texan. BTW, I might add him to that "less with more" debate. With his game, he should have won at least a couple majors by now.5:30 pm Reader Marlene just had her first post-work cocktail. That makes two of us! Just kidding. I started drinking hours ago. Back to biz: after a birdie at 15, Lee Westwood has climbed to 5-under, just two off the lead. He just became my pick to win this week.     5:22 pm Jaded? Me?5:21 pm It's always irked me how the TV analysts pretend to get such a big kick out of the players' reactions on 17. I think it's a contractual obligation or something. If a golfer so much as furrows his brow after a questionable tee shot, the guys in the booth get giddy as school girls and squeal something like, "Only at the 17th!"      5:17 pm Woods is in the middle of the fairway on 15. No, seriously. Still, he doesn't take full advantage, hanging his short-iron approach 15 feet right of the stick. Can't remember the last time he's hit two stellar shots consecutively. 5:10 pm Damn, it's after 5 o'clock. I know that means a lot of you will cut out soon. Please don't. I get lonely. Surely there's a TPS report you can work on?  5:05 pm Allenby continues to play beautifully -- he's now at 7-under and the solo leader with four holes to play. The Aussie hasn't won on U.S. soil in some nine years. Might that change this week? Nah, probably not. 4:59 pm Tiger strikes a 3-iron to 20 feet at the 14th. He's hitting his irons with integrity. Love to see him come out one of these days sans woods -- or at least without his driver. Pretty sure it couldn't hurt. 4:52 pm Earlier today at the NASCAR track that is the 17th hole Greg Owen provided us with a spectacular crash. Arriving on the tee at 3-under Owen pushed his tee shot into the drink, clumsily dunked his approach from the drop zone—it never had a chance—and then two-putted for his 7.  4:45 pm I still can't believe what I'm seeing when Woods pops up a drive, as he did today and a couple of time at Augusta. It's like Walter Ray Williams throwing a gutter ball.4:40 pm Woods somehow makes 4 from the pine straw at the 12th. He stays at 2-under.4:38 pm Edwin bemoans Shipnuck's blog session for being too "Shipnuckcentric." Really? I've always found his blogging downright Dickensian. Meanwhile, Robert Allenby is up to his usual first-round theatrics, moving to 6-under thru 12 holes. Has there been a better Thursday player in the history of golf? 4:30 pm Marlene, TW is 2-under through 11 holes, with birdies at 9 and 11, both par-5s. Bad news at the 12th, where he yanked a 5-wood off the tee into the junk left before letting out a "God-d...!" He managed to catch himself before the "ammit" came out.4:24 pm I'm with reader JLinkTX (though his handle could use some work), who argues that "for at least the balance of this year, Tiger will have the 'I'm making significant changes in my life and it's going to take some time to get everything worked out' card.
Don't get me wrong -- what the man did is reprehensible. But his life is in tatters. How can he possibly focus on golf? And how can we possibly pass serious judgments on his game? That discussion can't happen in earnest until at least 2011.

4:17 pm Tiger’s been his typically mystifying self today. His round can best be summed up by his tee shots a few holes back. At the par-4 7th he popped up a drive that barely reached the fairway and a hole later hit a low, stinging, pin-seeking, baby draw 3-iron that no other human can replicate. In many ways, he's never been more fun to watch.

4:11 pm Is there a player who has done less with more talent than DLIII? Shocking that he's only one major, and that was, what, 13 years ago?4:08 pm Oops, thee posts in and I'm already correcting myself. Davis Love III has also gotten it to 6-under for a share of the lead. He's through 11 holes. 4:06 pm Sleepy leaderboard thus far. Your leader remains J.B. Holmes, who bombed his way to a 66 this morning. In the cluster a stroke behind him: the likes of Jason Bohn, Ben Crane, Heath Slocum … you get the idea. Mickelson carded a 70. Tiger is one-under through 11 holes. Son of a gun, he might just make the cut!

4:03 pm Thanks, Alan S. Now with the risk of offending you and your granola-munching Pebble Beach brethren, I’m going to kick this thing back to EST.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 1:00. It was real. It was fun. It was real fun. Let's do this again sometime. Now, will the real Alan please stand up! 12:59. Pesky Kevin Ryan wonders who would win a hot dog eating contest between K. Stadler and Brendan de Jonge. I shudder to think. 12:57. Some thoughts on a random leaderboard: 1) The only story I'd want to write among the leaders is Davis Love. 2) Early tee times had a big advantage today. This is like a staggered start in track - it's hard to know who the real leaders are until the end of the second round. 3) Sawgrass used to be a monster. Now it's a quirky, confounding position course. Helps to explain some of the unexpected names up there. 12:52. Eight more minutes, people, until a real pro (Alan Bastable) takes over. I'm feeling a little melancholy that this wonderful experience is coming to an end. Any final questions? 12:50. I'm already bored by the 17th hole and it's only Thursday. 12:46. Reader Rob Fuller asks,"Is Tiger playing to win, or is he playing not to lose?" Interesting query. I think he's just trying to control his misses, which falls somewhere in between. 12:38. Blogger Stephanie Wei points out that Tiger's ragged ballstriking is a stark contrast to the controlled precision of his playing partner Hunter Mahan. Check out weiunderpar.com for some juicy speculation on Tiger possibly enlisting Mahan's swing coach, Sean Foley. 12:35. Sweet approach shot by TW on 9, setting up eagle chance. Has anyone in Tour history ever chunked a 3-wood 190 yards off the tee on one hole and then eagled the next? 12:29. Wow, My Happy Talk, aka Mark Rolfing, just called a Sergio approach shot "absolutely horrendous." Love it.  12:28. An anonymous reader asks why we're all wasting our time on a golf blog when Wall Street is "ablaze". Because, clearly, golf is more important! 12:24. TW on the tee of the par-5 9th plays a lovely cut to a perfect spot in the fairway. Aberration or is he finally finding his swing? 12:19. Sorry, technical difficulties. (May or may not be a euphemism for lunch.) 12:02. Ooh, the Rickie-Rory debate is getting bitchy, as a couple of readers are swinging their purses at each other! I love it! 11:59: Obsessive poster Kevin Ryan clarifies that he was being facetious regarding KT. We don't do facetious on the live blog. 11:54. Tiger left it short. Perhaps related: He's beginning to sweat through his khaki trousers. 11:54. Here's something you don't hear everyday: reader Kevin Ryan is excited that Kelly Tilghman is coming on the air. 11:52. Tiger just played a sweet approach to 12' below the hole on number six. Can he finally make his first birdie? I have butterflies. Or maybe that's just from the breakfast burrito I had this morning... 11:47. Who's going to have a better career, Rory Mac or Rickie Fowler? Tough call. I think I 'll take Rory, by a whisker. 11:44. Reader David Reed writes,"This has got to be the poorest live blog I have ever read. Thanks for making my day this boring at work." Uh, you're welcome? 11:41. Sergio just made another putt! That's 60 feet worth of hole-outs on the last two holes. This could get interesting. 11:39. Hunter Mahan is so solid. I still can't believe he's won only two tournaments. 11:28. Sergio just made a putt! I repeat, Sergio just made a putt! 11:13. I never get tired of that "Better than most" highlight. It remains Gary Koch's primary contribution to golf. 11:04. Wow, Sergio has the biggest water bottle I've ever seen. Is he overcompensating for something? 11:02. Reader Edwin Carlson wonders why my updates are in Pebble time. Because that's where I am. Clearly the Pebble Beach is the axis upon which the golf world spins. 11:00. When did Aaron Baddeley start going to Charley Hoffman's barber? Yikes. 10:59. TW's birdie putt horseshoes out. As the Dali Lama says, Karma's a bitch. 10:58. Rory Mac is even par early in the back nine. Seeing him here makes me pine for Ryo. Shouldn't these guys always be in the same field? 10:51. Great drive by TW on the second hole, perfect position to attack for eagle, and then he jacks his approach a mile left. It's actually left of the greenside bunkers, so it'll be an interesting pitch shot. 10:49. My colleague Michael Bamberger is too modest to remind anyone but he picked Heath Slocum to win this Players. In case you need a rooting interest, one way or the other. 10:36. Tiger's approach at number 1, off the pine straw: pin high, about 35'. Great shot. It's so fun to watch this guy when he's spraying it off the tee. 10:33. Catching a glimpse of Ricky Barnes on the telecast has me reminiscing about my Augusta flight alongside his fiance', Suzanne Stonebarger. (Dedicated Twitter followers of @AlanShipnuck know all about this.) Because the readers have a right to know, check out these saucy pics of the future Mrs. Barnes: http://bit.ly/dw1jEW. 10:28. Tiger's first tee shot is away. Dead left. Big surprise. 10:22. Have you heard about the new affliction sweeping golf: "Luke Donald Disease"? It's a term coined by a UK paper to describe underachieving Euros. A win here would help cure LD of his own malady. 10:15 TV is making a big deal about Jay Haas setting a new record with his 29th Players start. I'm channeling Mr. Incredible: why are we celebrating mediocrity? 10:13 Our leaders Ben Crane and J.B. Holmes are both very, uh, deliberate. Top tweet on the subject comes from @JasonSobel: "Ben Crane and J.B. Holmes are now tied for the lead. It they're in the final pairing on Sunday, we might be here on Monday, too." 10:09 I like Stenson's checked pants. My grandma had a tablecloth just like that. 10:06 But there are some nice names lurking within a few strokes of the lead, including VJ, Furyk, Stenson, Kaymer, Scott and Villegas 10:04 Pebble Beach time. Scanning the leaderboard, the biggest name in top 8 is, uh, nobody. Tim Finchem must be getting nervous.
Tune into Golf.com on Thursday for complete coverage of Tiger Woods's opening round at the 2010 Players Championship. SI's Alan Shipnuck will be live blogging the first round from 1-4 p.m. Eastern. Golf Magazine's Alan Bastable will take over from 4-7 p.m.

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by Kevin Cunningham