Matsuyama shares lead after first round at Players

Thu May 7, 2015 9:29pm EDT
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By Ben Everill

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy outplayed Jordan Spieth in a duel between the world's two top-ranked players, but another young gun was part of a quartet who stole the show with the first round lead at the Players Championship on Thursday.

Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, fired a five-under 67 to join Canadian David Hearn and Americans Kevin Na and Charley Hoffman in the lead at TPC Sawgrass, one shot ahead of six Americans.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, who played with Spieth and world number seven Jason Day, put together a steady three-under 69.

Australian Day matched 26-year-old McIlroy, but Masters champion Spieth struggled to a three-over 75 and finished the day equal 109th, eight shots off the pace.

Matsuyama missed several fairways early but recovered to notch six birdies and just a lone bogey at the first, his 10th hole.

“I putted very well today. That was the difference,” the 23-year-old told reporters through an interpreter.

“The key to this golf course for me anyway is to keep the tee shots in the fairway, then score well on the back nine.”

Last year's Memorial tournament winner talked down his place among the budding rivalry of McIlroy and Spieth, even though he outplayed them.   Continued...

May 2, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Hideki Matsuyama tees off on the second hole during day four of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac March Play at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports