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Poulter, Laird Lead Players Golf by One; Woods Trails by Nine

Poulter, Laird Lead Players Golf by One; Woods Trails
Ian Poulter of England waits alongside his bag on the 18th hole during the first round of the Palyers championship. Photographer: David Cannon/Getty Images

Ian Poulter and Martin Laird hold a one-shot lead over Blake Adams going into today’s second round of the U.S. PGA Tour’s Players championship, where Tiger Woods trails by nine strokes.

England’s Poulter, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2010 World Golf Championship match-play event, had eight birdies and one bogey in a 7-under-par 65 at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, yesterday. Laird, a Scot with two wins in the U.S., had a bogey-free start to the tournament.

“That’s definitely probably in the top 10 of the rounds of golf I’ve ever played,” Poulter told reporters.

Adams, who missed the cut in his only prior visit to the tournament a year ago, finished with a 66, one shot ahead of Kevin Na and Ben Crane. Phil Mickelson, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 7, is 1-under par.

Woods, who missed the two-round cut at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship for the second straight year, finished with a 2-over 74.

Woods began yesterday at the 10th hole and had three bogeys and two birdies in the opening half of his round. He then birdied the second hole in between bogeys on the first and third before finishing with six straight pars. Woods, a 14-time major tournament winner, withdrew from the Players each of the past two years.

“It wasn’t certainly the most positive start,” Woods told reporters. “Any kind of momentum that I would build, I would shoot myself in the foot on the very next hole. Just one of those days.”

The tournament’s 2001 winner, Woods played in a group with fellow Americans Rickie Fowler, who won the Wells Fargo title for his first career PGA Tour victory, and Hunter Mahan. Fowler is even par, while Mahan is tied with Woods at 2-over.

The Players is golf’s richest tournament with a $9.5 million purse. The winner will receive $1.71 million.

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