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May 9 2013

6:31 PM

Palmer changes up his routine

Ryan Palmer birdies the 13th hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Palmer has never played particularly well on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Until Thursday, that is.

Palmer fired a 67 in the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship that was his first score in the 60s in 16 rounds on Pete Dye's signature creation. He's tied for fifth, four strokes off the pace set by Roberto Castro, heading into the second round.

"It was nice finally getting around this golf course," said Palmer, who has only made the cut once in seven previous starts. "It's definitely been a thorn in my side since I've been on TOUR. And I don't know what it is, but there are some tee shots that I'm just not well with."

Palmer changed his approach this year, though. He went to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and then practiced back in Texas earlier this week. He didn't even fly to Ponte Vedra until Wednesday morning -- and he only played nine holes.

"I came in here with no expectations," Palmer said. "I showed up on Wednesday by choice, played at home on Tuesday with some friends and practiced Monday at home. So I came in here with a little less stress."

Palmer, who made five straight birdies on the back nine, which was his first of the day, hit 10 fairways and the same number of greens in regulation. The key? Palmer's solid short game and just 22 putts.

"I hit my irons well today and my short game was there," Palmer said. "I just found out I had 22 putts, so that was always the key. Drove it pretty good on the back nine. On the front nine, I kind of struggled, but that's where my short game came in to save me."

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