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McDowell hits form in Florida


Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell bounced back to form with a five-under-par 67 on a day at the Players Championship destined to be remembered for Tiger Woods limping out after a horrid nine holes.

While Woods quit at six over par and raised fresh questions about his future, McDowell put a miserable spell behind him by moving into a share of fifth place at golf's richest event.

A month away from his US Open defence, the Northern Irishman had missed three of his four previous cuts, but produced a wonderful eagle at the 16th and then a luckier holed bunker shot at the sixth to finish the opening round at Sawgrass three behind Nick Watney.

The American, who won his first world title in Miami in March, set the pace with a remarkable eight-under 64 which included an eagle on the second - he made it from a bunker there - nine birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.

That was only one outside the course record, but Watney was just one in front of last week's winner Lucas Glover and two ahead of David Toms and also 54-year-old Mark O'Meara in a real blast from the past.

Another going well after a 67 was German Martin Kaymer, who has the chance to regain the world number one spot from the absent Lee Westwood with a top-two finish this weekend.

Londoner Brian Davis led when he stood five under after 11, but bogeys followed on the 14th and famous short 17th and he had to be content with a 69.

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Luke Donald, another with an opportunity to go to the top of the rankings, matched that score and did not have a bogey on his card as his fine season continued.

Justin Rose was on the same mark until he bogeyed the last, while Ian Poulter also shot 70, Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson 71 and Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher 73.

Harrington had been three under after 10.

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