Scott Stallings got his round off to a hot start on Thursday.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Scott Stallings, who missed the cut last year in his PLAYERS Championship debut, started his round with five straight birdies on Thursday to bolt to the top of the leaderboard early during the first round.
Stallings drained a 36-footer on the first hole to set the tone for the day. He made a 3-footer at the par-5 second, then made putts of 20, 17 and 5 feet on his next three holes to get to 5 under.
Stallings' streak is one shot off the record for consecutive birdies at THE PLAYERS held by Tom Watson (1984), Dave Rummells (1986), Fred Wadsworth (1987), Paul Azinger (1993), Vaughn Taylot (2006) and Sergio Garcia (2011).
Stallings is two strokes ahead of PLAYERS rookies Roberto Castro, Casey Wittenberg and Jason Kokrak. Castro has played seven holes, Wittenberg eight and Kokrak 10.
Rory McIlroy, who has never made the cut in three appearances at THE PLAYERS, is among a large group at 2 under after playing just three holes. He started on the back nine and has birdied Nos. 11 and 12.