The first round of the PGA Tour's "fifth major" is in the books, and Euros Ian Poulter and Martin Laird are tied atop the leaderboard at 7-under. Sawgrass yielded some nice scoring conditions early on, and Poulter took full advantage with a round of 65 that featured eight birdies. The precocious Englishman birdied four straight holes at the turn, charging up the leaderboard with red numbers at holes nine through 12. He also avoided the big blow up on the water holes down the stretch, adding birdies on No. 16 and No. 17 for a bogey-free back nine.
Laird went off late in the afternoon and put together a bogey-free round to match Poulter with a 65. Laird is a super talented Scot who's long been lurking near the top of the World Rankings. He finally broke through with a signature win at last year's API at Bay Hill, edging out Steve Marino. Poulter, on the other, hand, is one of the most popular players on Tour but has wandered in the wilderness a bit since winning the WGC Match Play in Arizona two years ago. A win at the TPC would put his career back on track at the top as one of the top English players in the world.
The bigger names failed to make much noise on the first day. Tiger Woods, fresh off an MC at Quail Hollow, is once again lingering at the cut line after a 2-over 74 in his first round. Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were paired together in the afternoon, but neither capitalized on plenty of birdie opportunities that the course setup presented. Newly minted Hall-of-Famer Mickelson is just 1-under while Rory is even.
For real-time leaderboard updates throughout the tournament, visit Golf.com.