Former winners Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson are a combined even-par after the first round of the 2019 Players Championship.

As spectators sipped Stella Artois and smoked stogies, a trio of internationally acclaimed golfers took a stroll around The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

All three, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson, have won The Players Championship. Yet, outside of a woman sporting a blue “Team Adam Scott” T-shirt, more people were enamored with the group ahead of them, than the three former winners.

Of the 11 former champions in the field, five were clustered together in a pair of afternoon groupings. The marquee group of Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed teed off at 1:27 p.m. That group received the fanfare, a hefty crowd and the roars.

It left murmurs and a smaller crowd in its wake as 2004 Players champion Scott, 2009 champion Stenson and 2014 champion Kaymer teed off 11 minute later.

The trio of champions struggled early, as wind and firmer greens made The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass more challenging. Stenson, Scott and Kaymer each bogeyed the 415-yard, par-4 first hole.

“It was pumping pretty hard during the warmup — it’s still fairly windy,” Stenson said after his 3-over 75 left him in a tie for 118th. “I’d say it was close to two clubs of wind out there. We didn’t hit the best shots we needed to early on. You kind of get a little bit behind the eight ball when you finish far away from the pins here. I think there is no secret that the greens didn’t turn out the way they wanted to with the overseed and stuff.”

Stenson and Scott said the greens on Thursday were quicker than what they practiced on earlier in the week. There were also moments where the bounces, literally, did not go their way.

Kaymer’s second shot from off the green at No. 12 was on line and hit the flagstick before rolling away. He knocked in his to get back to even par, but he was inches away from an eagle.

After a stretch where he carded five bogeys in seven holes, Stenson shot 2-under over his last eight holes to keep the afternoon from getting away from him.

Competing in the group after Woods’ meant there were far fewer spectators, and those who did watch were able to nestle up to the ropes to catch a glimpse of the former major champions and Players winners.

At No. 13, there were more people with their back toward the trio than facing the green. Forty yards away two geese grazed unbothered by the golfers teeing off at the 161-yard, par-3. When Stenson was able to stick one close — his tee shot at No. 13 was inside of eight feet — a fan responded “nice shot” and the 37th-ranked player in the world was able to not only hear the compliment but respond with thanks.

Scott carded four birdies on the back nine, including one on No. 18, the fifth-hardest hole on the course.

“That was a good hang today after a poor start,” Scott said. “It wasn’t easy. The greens were a bit different on the front nine than I had seen in practice. It wasn’t easy to get it that close. It was windy. All of a sudden they are a bit firmer. A couple pins get tucked and all of a sudden it’s a bit of work out there.”

The Stadium Course was a bit of work for most of the former champions in the field. Sergio Garcia (2008) and Matt Kuchar (2012) are tied for 13th at 3-under. Woods (2013) would have joined that duo, but he bogeyed No. 18 to finish 2-under with Simpson and Jason Day (2016). Kaymer shot 1-under 71 to finish the first round tied for 53rd. Phil Mickelson (2007) and Rickie Fowler (2015) both shot a 2-over 74, while 2017 winner Si Woo Kim carded a 1-over 73.

Scott ruefully smiled when retelling a story from the morning. Prior to his round, he quipped that scoring was good, only to find out it wasn’t. If he is able to get to at least 6-under after today’s second round, he believes he would be within striking distance entering the weekend.

“I feel really good tee to green,” Scott said. “I didn’t hit a fairway until the sixth hole, not for bad swings. But, it was not easy. I don’t feel the front nine was easy.”