Alternates get call at TPC

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH ” Fred Couples didn’t find out he was playing until Friday. Dustin Johnson didn’t find out until 7 a.m. Thursday.

The two golfers played early in the first round of The Players, one a 25-year veteran and the other a rookie, both making it in as alternates.

Couples found out last week he would get in because Will McKenzie decided to have knee surgery.

“If I was one player removed, I can promise you I wouldn’t have come down here and waited three days to find out,” Couples said. “Dustin’s young. He’s a rookie. He has that in him. I don’t have that in me.”

Johnson made the field when Masters champ Trevor Immelman woke up vomiting.

“I got here at 6:15 (a.m.) and was watching TV when I got a text message telling me I was playing,” Johnson said. “I played a couple of practice rounds Monday and Tuesday so I prepared like I was going to play, but I didn’t think I was going to play.”

Couples, who will turn 50 next October and will sprint to the Champions Tour in 2010, shot a 70 and is four shots out of the lead.

“I’ve got one more (Players) in me and then I’m done,” Couples said.

Johnson, who was making a run at rookie of the year early in the season but has struggled of late, was 2-under after eight holes but finished with a 73.