Friday, September 7, 2018
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA.
With the glare of a scorching sun in his eyes, Tiger Woods couldn’t believe what he saw.
He finally missed a green on his 14th hole.
Everything else felt that way Thursday in the BMW Championship, where Woods had his lowest score in an opening round in nearly 20 years and his best score on the PGA Tour since his last victory more than five years ago. With a bogey on his penultimate hole, he had an 8-under 62 at Aronimink.
And all that got him was a share of the lead with Rory McIlroy.
“Just the way it goes,” Woods said with a smile, caring more about a complete round of golf and a strong performance with his old putter than whether he was leading after one round in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods hit nothing longer than a 9-iron into the par 4s. McIlroy relied heavily on his wedge game to make a strong bid at 59, only to make consecutive bogeys late in his round and having to settle for a 62.
Woods had just signed his card and saw that McIlroy was at 9 under, and by the time he stepped out from the hot sun and suggested another ice bath might be in order, McIlroy had dropped two shots before finishing with a two-putt birdie.
It was the lowest score for Woods since he shot 61 in the second round of the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational, which he won by seven shots for his 79th title on the PGA Tour and 90th worldwide. It remains his last victory.
And it was his best opening round since a 61 in the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic on a similar kind of day.
Woods returned to the same putter he has used to win 13 of his 14 majors — his third different putter in as many weeks — and saw some familiar results. He opened with a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 10, shot 29 on the back nine, and then rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 1 to reach 7 under through 10 holes.
His only bogey came at the par-3 eighth, by far the most difficult pin on the course. Woods was between clubs, went with a soft 4-iron and yanked it into the rough. He pitched to 18 feet, a good shot up a ridge and onto a green that sloped away from him. The putt caught the lip.
The wide fairways and temperatures in the 90s allowed the golf ball to seemingly fly forever and made for such low scoring that 48 players in the 69-man field broke par. Rickie Fowler opened with a 65 in his first tournament since the PGA Championship.
Jordan Spieth couldn’t keep it in play off the tee and didn’t get under par until his 15th hole. He birdied three of the last four for a 67.
Peter Uihlein, who only advanced to the third FedEx Cup playoff event with birdies on his last three holes on the TPC Boston last week, had a 64 to join a group that included FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas.