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Castro opens with a 63 in Players debut
Golf » 1st timer shoots course-tying 9-under 63 in opening round.


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Henrik Stenson was among those at 68.

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The Stadium Course has rarely been this vulnerable, with barely a trace of wind and some pins in bowls that allowed for good looks at birdie. Half the 72 players in the morning broke par.

But the punishment is never far away, as Scott Stallings discovered. He opened with five straight birdies to get everyone’s attention, but after going out in 31, Stallings gave most of it back with a bogey, double bogey and a triple bogey on the 16th when he hit two balls into the water. He shot 40 on the back for a 71.

"It just goes to show about the golf course and really how volatile it is," Stallings said.

Castro hasn’t discovered that yet. This was a day when everything went right.


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He made three birdies early in his round on the back until making his tap-in birdies on the 17th and 18th. Then, he hit 3-iron into 3 feet on the par-5 second hole for an eagle and was 7-under through 11 holes. On the fourth, he hit his approach inside 2 feet for another birdie, and then he hit wedge to 18 inches on the sixth.

Castro had a birdie putt just outside 12 feet to break the course record, but missed it.

After his eagle on the second hole — his 11th of the round — Castro was reminded of a game he plays to try to birdie every other hole.

"When I eagled, I was like, ‘Oh, now I’m 7 [under] through 11, so that’s keeping ahead of that 50 percent mark.’ But this is a different golf course," he said. "The golf course is much harder than most of the other times I’ve kind of taken that attitude."

Couples shot his 63 in 1992 in the third round. Norman opened with a 63 in 1994 when he went on to shatter the tournament record at 24-under 264. Castro put himself in good company, two players in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and two winners of The Players Championship. Not bad for a 27-year-old in only his second year on the PGA Tour.

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