Golf: Price reaps reward for aggression: Three-wood aids German's game as Englishman seeks rain cheque in Italy

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The Independent Online
THE US PGA champion, Nick Price, and Kirk Triplett shot eight-under-par 64s to share the lead after the first round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass yesterday.

Price almost equalled the course record of 63 with a faultless round but left his putt on the lip of the hole at the 18th. He put his good form down to the calm weather. 'You can be really aggressive under these conditions,' he said.

Triplett, whose round included seven birdies, one bogey and an eagle two on the par-four fourth, had only once previously broken 70. He was 'thrilled' with his form and said: 'Now all we need is three days of solid rain.'

Bernhard Langer and Joey Sindelar are one shot behind, with Greg Norman leading a group of four players on 66.

Langer had problems with his new graphite-shafted driver and after a poor tee shot at the seventh, which resulted in a bogey, he switched to his three-wood.

It had the desired effect and Langer said afterwards: 'This is my best ball- striking round for a very long time. I hit my irons extremely well, very close to the hole.

'Even though I needed one or two clubs longer into the greens with the three-wood, it was better on this course to be hitting from the fairway than to be further along, but in the trees.'

Ian Woosnam must hope he rediscovers his iron touch before the wind returns. He shot a 71 but with more breeze several of his pars would have been bogeys.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Jose-Maria Olazabal, who shot a six-over-par 78. He had one birdie, two bogeys, a double and a triple bogey.

The Fijian Vijay Singh virtually assured himself of his playing card on the American tour. To do so he needs to make the cut this week and after his three-under-par 69 it looks likely that he will achieve that.

THE PLAYERS' CHAMPIONSHIP (TPC Sawgrass course, Ponte Vedra, Fla) Early leading first-round scores (US unless stated): 64 N Price (Zim), K Triplett. 65 B Langer (Ger), J Sindelar. 66 R Black, J Edwards, D Hammond, G Norman. 67 F Zoeller, R Fehr, B Faxon, S Elkington (Aus), D Tewell, R Wrenn, M O'Meara, R Cochran. 68 F Couples, P Azinger, R Mediate, M Dawson, F Funk, M Reid, M McCumber, B Fabel. 69 E Els (SA), B Lietzke, B Bryant, D Rummells, S Gump, E Dougherty, J Delsing, J Haas, V Singh (Fiji), D Pohl, M Sullivan, C Strange, D Toms, T Lehman. Selected: 70 A Forsbrand (Swe). 71 I Woosnam (GB). 78 J-M Olazabal (Sp).