As if The Players Championship needed more hype heading into play, organizers announced two "super groups" featuring the biggest names in golf playing together for the first two rounds.
In a perfect world, the morning trio of Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth would set the table with strong play Thursday for some afternoon fireworks between the threesome of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler.
Unfortunately, Thursday proved yet again that we don't live in a perfect world, as all six players failed to live up to the enormous hype entering play.
McIlroy was the only player of the six to finish under par with a 1-under 71, as they combined to shoot 12-over despite very favorable conditions at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods had a chance to post an under-par round but found the water off the 18th tee, a shot that resulted in a bogey for a round of even-par. The two-time event champion showed flashes of brilliance throughout his round, including an incredible eagle at No. 9, but couldn't string enough quality shots together to make a run.
Fowler found the water with his tee shot on the island green at No. 17 and carded a double-bogey on the hole after the mistake. That left him at 2-over, one shot behind Thomas, who shot 73 despite making five birdies.
Spieth's struggles at The Players have been well-documented as the 24-year-old has missed three straight cuts at the event. The three-time major winner stressed a different approach this year but couldn't show that on the course with a 3-over 75.
Mickelson's 7-over 79 was his worst score at TPC Sawgrass in 18 years, and came as the result of a disastrous closing stretch on the back nine. The 47-year-old, clad in a long-sleeve button-up shirt fresh off a new endorsement deal, played his final five holes in 7-over.
The groups flip times tomorrow with Woods, Fowler, and Mickelson teeing off in the morning and McIlroy, Thomas, and Spieth going out in the afternoon. With over 50 players sitting at 2-under or better, it's going to take something brilliant to get any of the big six back in contention for the weekend.