Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Final 3 Holes Are Trouble for Laird; First-Round Co-Leader Falls off the Pace after Problems Down Stretch

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Final 3 Holes Are Trouble for Laird; First-Round Co-Leader Falls off the Pace after Problems Down Stretch

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

Martin Laird had the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course figured out.

The first round co-leader of The Players Championship shot a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday. He built on that momentum, rising to 10 under through 15 holes on Friday and appeared to be coasting to the weekend with the lead.

Then, it got him. Arguably the best three finishing holes in golf - the 16th, 17th and 18th - quickly brought Laird back to the pack. Laird bogeyed the par-5 16th, double bogeyed 17 and bogeyed 18. The three-hole meltdown cost Laird the lead and left him two shots off the lead in a five-way tie for fifth place.

Despite the horrid finish, the 29-year-old Scot tried to focus on his overall position on the leaderboard heading into the weekend.

"If there's ever a day you want to do that, it's Thursday or Friday and not Sunday," said Laird, who finished the day with a 1-over 73. "I've got to take out of it that I just played the last three at 4 over par. ... I'm obviously playing some pretty good golf leading up to that."

Laird's trouble was unexpected. …

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