AP Golf Writer
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Adam Scott waited on the 10th tee for his name to be called Thursday at The Players Championship, his first tournament since winning the Masters in a playoff for his first major championship.
It felt like just another tournament when the starter introduced him as ... the 2004 Players champion.
This is nothing new for The Players Championship, which treats every player equally unless they are a past champion of the event.
"The biggest disappointment of the day was the announcement on the first tee," Scott said with a grin, "because he didn't introduce me as the Masters champion."
Scott was kidding, though the omission did not go unnoticed by the guys who played with him.
"As soon as he hit and he came back, I was like, 'That was a little disappointing. I was kind of looking forward to you being announced as Masters champion,'" Steve Stricker said. "And he said, 'That's going to be the most disappointing thing all week.' So yeah, I was surprised they didn't announce him as that. He had a little chuckle out of it, too."
Rory McIlroy also was in the group and he knows the feeling. He won his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open, but his next start was the British Open and golf's oldest championship typically introduces a player and his country.
"It's still all right, because your name is on the trophy," McIlroy said.
And Scott still has the green jacket.
That made McIlroy wonder, however, if the starter had inserted something about every player at The Players Championship. He said for him it would have been, "Coming off three missed cuts in three tries, Rory McIlroy."
THE OLD MAN: Steve Stricker turned 47 this year and despite playing a limited schedule, he plays well. Playing in the group with Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy -- he's nearly twice as old as McIlroy -- he was shorter off the tee and doesn't have their brand of firepower, but he was efficient in finishing with a 67.
It helps being regarded as one of the best putters in golf, of course.
"I enjoy watching them," Stricker said. "They've got so much offense. I've got to do my things a little bit differently from how they do their things, but it's still effective for me. But it's fun to watch them how they can get really aggressive and dominate some holes if they want to, just like Adam did on No. 9. He just bombed it out there and hit iron there, and I've got 250 to the front."
Stricker and McIlroy spent a lot of time talking, which led to a question: What do a 47-year-old American and a 24-year-old from Northern Ireland talk about?
"We were talking about his girlfriend, Caroline," Stricker said.
McIlroy is dating tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, and Stricker said his 14-year-old daughter, Bobbi Maria, and wife Nikki are big into tennis.
"I think we're going to the U.S. Open tennis this fall, so I asked kind of how she prepares and what kind of workout regimen she has and what their days are like," Stricker said. "Yeah, I don't care about Rory. I was asking about Caroline."
Despite their age differences, Stricker and McIlroy had one thing in common Thursday -- they each made six birdies, all on the same holes. Stricker was the last to tee off when the round started, so he never hit first on any tee the entire round.
MAHAN RECOVERING: Hunter Mahan hasn't played on Sunday since the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He made an early exit from the Masters with rounds of 76-82, and while he made the cut at Hilton Head and Quail Hollow, he wound up missing the 54-hole cut (based on the size of the field) with scores of 78 and 76.
So his bogey-free round of 67 at The Players Championship was a good sign.
"I think I was just trying too hard," Mahan said. "I was trying to do a lot. I was trying to be this golfer that I picture myself being, and I can't do it in one day and I can't do it in one week or two weeks or three weeks. I'm just trying to play golf and get better every day and not really try to reach that limit of who I should be right now.
"You have to allow yourself to let it happen, and I feel like that's what I'm doing now."