The Players Championship 2018: Dustin Johnson in early three-way share of lead

Justin Thomas has his eyes on the No 1 spot

Dustin Johnson produced his best ever round at the Players Championship, as the world number one was among a six-way tie for the lead.

Joining Johnson atop the leaderboard at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, were fellow US Open victor Webb Simpson, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay and in-form Swede Alex Noren.

None of the feature group of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were able to break par.

None was anywhere near the lead at The Players Championship.

So, where did that round come from?

"The only thing I don't like is holding up fingers", Johnson said. "I don't think I putted very well around here as a whole". "I feel like I played it the same way most of the times I played it, other than I fade the ball instead of draw it - but it still requires you to hit the same kind of shots off the tees".

"I haven't had the best record here but it's a golf course that I like, I enjoy playing it and I feel like I should play well here", Johnson said after his lowest score and first bogey-free round at Sawgrass in 31 attempts.

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World No. 2 Justin Thomas, No. 3 Jon Rahm and No. 5 Justin Rose all have a chance to rise to No. 1 for the first time in their careers.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson hopes that a new putter and a new putting method will help turn around his fortunes at a premier golf championship that has mystified him for years. "He's been pretty close to me for a while, so I mean every week I know there's a chance that someone can pass me".

"I definitely want to keep it", said Johnson, who has spent 64 consecutive weeks at No. 1.

"Obviously, this week if I play really well I'll still be No. 1. I'm going to keep working hard". It was a big deal to get there and it's a big deal to stay there. "I don't want to wear myself out".

Rose and Rahm both fared much better than Thomas and Spieth in their effort to become the top player in the world. The third player in that marquee group, Rory McIlroy, shot a 1-under 71.

"If you're on your game, this course suits you", Kuchar said. Except for an 18-footer just off the green at No. 9 for eagle, however, a lot of them were for par. "And if I, from here on in, shoot three scores in the 60s, I don't feel like I'll be that far away".

He used the AimPoint method of reading greens for the first time in competition, and used a smaller version of the mallet putter that pushed him to the No. 1 ranking.

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"I think I've done a better job of. not figuring it out, you never figure it out, but I've done a better job of being less aggressive when I need to and more aggressive when I need to", Glover told reporters of his approach at TPC Sawgrass.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka reinjured his left wrist while practicing Wednesday, but he played Thursday and shot a 2-under 70.

Speaking of his round, Lahiri said, "No, you're not going to win this tournament on Thursday. I don't quit, man".

Si Woo Kim, who a year ago at 21 became the youngest victor in the championship's 44-year history, was a shot off the lead.

"I don't want to say it was a surprise, because I've been playing well lately, " Mitchell said. This is just the first round. "When we did, we just tried to take advantage of our opportunity".

Kim, who previous year was the youngest victor of the Players, joined legendary Jack Nicklaus as the first player since Nicklaus in 1977 to shoot an equal defending champion low first round of 67.

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