Date: May 08, 2009
Author: PA Sport

O’Hern in the hunt

Nick O&aposHern fired a mixed opening round as the Australasian contingent struggled to make an impact at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. O&aposHern shot five birdies and an eagle along with three bogeys in a four-under 68 that saw him take a share of 14th place behind American Ben Crane. Geoff Ogilvy also had an up-and-down day, his five birdies and three bogeys seeing him finish the first round at two-under, one stroke ahead of world No.1 Tiger Woods and compatriots Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and Aaron Baddeley. Crane took the overnight lead with an opening seven-under-par 65, with Germany&aposs Alex Cejka, Richard S Johnson of Sweden and American John Mallinger tied for second on six-under following 66s. Englishman Ian Poulter was part of an eight-man group on five-under and in a tie for fifth place alongside Retief Goosen of South Africa, Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Americans Brad Adamonis, Scott Verplank, David Toms, Bubba Watson and Jonathan Byrd. O&aposHern is part of a large group at four-under including India&aposs Jeev Milkha Singh, American Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson of Sweden. Defending champion Sergio Garcia got off to a strong start off the 10th tee and was out in three-under-par. Yet the Spaniard, who landed the biggest victory of his career at the Players Stadium Course 12 months ago, shipped a double-bogey five at the eighth to come home in 38 and finish the opening day at one-under. “I think it&aposs been a while since I hit the ball that badly, but I don&apost know, I&aposll find a way,” Garcia said, having made his bid to become the first player in the tournament&aposs 35-year history to successfully defend his title an awful lot harder. Woods was again striving to find his complete game, this time striking the ball to his liking but failing to get his putter going, missing eight birdie putts inside 15 feet. “I didn&apost hit good putts,” Woods said. “My speed was off early, then I got my speed down at the end and I kept lipping out putts.” “I just need to obviously read them better or hit better putts, one of the two.” Meanwhile, Northern Ireland&aposs Gareth Maybin was in a class of his own when the BMW Italian Open began in Turin. A course record 64, seven-under, gave the 28-year-old from Belfast a three-stroke lead over Scot Richie Ramsay, French pair Raphael Jacquelin and Christian Cevaer and England&aposs Marcus Higley, while American John Daly would have been joint second as well but for two closing bogeys. Australian Brett Rumford is also in the mix after a three-under 68, while Michael Curtain is at one-under alongside countrymen Wade Ormsby and Andrew Tampion, and Kiwi Gareth Paddison.