Matsuyama equals Sawgrass course record and leads players with two

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Hideki Matsuyama is the first player to shoot the Players on Thursday for 63 years since Jason Day four years agoThe Players Championship: Round 1 leaderboard-9 H Matsuyama (Jpn); -7 C Bezuidenhout (SA), H Engels (USA), SW Kim (Kor); -5 M Leishman (SA), P Cantlay (USA); -4 W Simpson (US), R Cabrera Bello (Spa), G McDowell (NI) Selected others: -3 D Willett (Eng), T Hatton (Eng), -2 I Poulter (Eng), M Kuchar (US) ; -1 I Thomas (USA), Par R McIlroy (NI), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)

Hideki Matsuyama shot a nine-under 63 to match the course record and claimed a two-shot lead after the Players' first round Championship at Sawgrass.

The Japanese player made eight bogeys and an eagle to make the fifth first round 63 in the history of the tournament.

Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and 2017 champion Kim Si-woo are two shots adrift under seven.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy struggled before making birdie on his last three holes to level par.

The Northern Irishman, who last returned to world number one month, offers to become the first player to win back-to-back Players titles

Put his countryman Graeme McDowell his resurgence of form continues and a bid for a Ryder Cup return with a four under 68 to sit five shots out of the lead.

English Tyrrell Hatton followed his win over Arnold Palmer Invitational last week with a three-under 69.

While there were spectators for the opening round, the rest of the tournament will be behind closed doors are played because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

McIlroy says that organizers have made the right decision to play without spectators, but believe that all players should now be tested.

"I think we keep playing Tour, all players and people involved in it. Must be tested and make sure no one has it, because everyone knows you can have it and have no symptoms and it pass it on to someone more susceptible, "he said.

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