Leishman, Baddeley lead Aussies at Players C’ship
MARC Leishman has survived a rocky finish to TPC Sawgrass' brutal closing holes to sit six shots off the pace midway through the first round of the Players Championship.
Leishman rinsed his tee shot in the water hazard at the famous par-3 17th but saved a bogey before making par on the difficult 18th to sign for a one-under- par 71.
Four-time US PGA Tour winner Leishman sits six shots back of in-form Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who took advantage of relatively calm morning conditions during a 65.
With the afternoon groups now out on the course, Fleetwood holds the clubhouse lead at seven under - one shot ahead of Byeong Hun An and Brian Harman (66).
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy has continued his solid form from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational and with a 67 leaving him at five under.
Leishman had a solid round going until he reached the diminutive par-3 17th, which measures only 121 yards but its island green makes it tough even for the world's best golfers to hold their tee shots.
"It's a hole I could nearly throw the ball on the green from the tee," Leishman joked after his round.
"I hit a sand wedge but I caught it thin; however it was handy to make the bogey putt and limit the damage."
Aaron Baddeley is currently the leading Australian despite a bogey on the first hole.
Baddeley then picked up birdies at the par-5 second before two more at the fourth and fifth holes to sit two under.
Cameron Smith signed for an even-par 72, while countryman and 2016 Players winner Jason Day (one hole), as well as Tiger Woods, were also even with the card.
Adam Scott opened his Players campaign with a bogey 5 on the par-4 first hole.