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If you watched last week’s Northern Trust at TPC Boston, where there were two 59 watches on the same day and 30 under was the eventual winning score, the first round of the BMW Championship was basically the exact opposite of that.
Only three players played Olympia Fields under par on Thursday in Round 1, and if you were 2 over thru 18 holes, you’re gaining strokes on the field. That’s good news for a lot of big names in this event because there were a lot of 2 overs (and worse!) on Thursday. Let’s take a look at the leaderboard going into Friday’s second round.
1. Hideki Matsuyama (-3) — He was first in the field from tee to green and first on the leaderboard after Round 1. This should not be a surprise. Olympia Fields will almost definitely identify the best ball-striker in the field this week, and it could end being Matsuyama. He certainly has the chops to stay at the top. It’s normally true that a course identifies the best ball-striker in a given week, but it will be even more true this week given how fast and firm this course is playing.
2. Tyler Duncan (-2) — To give you an idea of how good a 68 was on Thursday, consider the fact that it was almost five strokes better than the field average in Round 1. An equivalent score last week at TPC Boston in Round 1 would have been a 64. Duncan needs it, too, as he started this week on the bubble of making it to next week’s Tour Championship (which would get him into several massive events in 2021). There’s always a lot at stake when this much money is involved, but it’s more life-changing for somebody like Duncan, who doesn’t have a top 10 since winning last fall, than most. Also, don’t expect it to last as Duncan led the field in putting, which is not a super sustainable way to win a tournament like this one.
3. Mackenzie Hughes (-1) — Good round for Hughes, who’s a solid player, but he barely gained any strokes off the tee and with his irons. If he’s under par at the end of the day on Friday, I would be shocked.
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T4. Tony Finau, Harry Higgs, Billy Horschel, Lanto Griffin, Sebastian Munoz, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Carlos Ortiz, Mark Hubbard, Rory McIlroy, Abraham Ancer (E) — McIlroy should probably be the new favorite given how he struck it on Thursday. He shot 70 but was top five in both driving and iron play, and missed three (!) putts from 4 feet and in. He went home last week after TPC Boston looking for a driver that felt lost, and he absolutely blistered it in Round 1. Good sign for the rest of the week.
T14. Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland (+1) — Hovland hit a driver off the deck that made me weak in the knees on Thursday. Think about how jarring it is for D.J. to go 60-64-63 over the final three rounds at TPC Boston and then come to this track and post a 71 that’s actually a really solid score! He needs to adjust the driver a bit going into Friday as he only hit six fairways and lost strokes to the field with his most dangerous club.
T21. Alex Noren, Adam Scott, Matthew Wolff (+2) — I only bring this group up because Noren was my sleeper coming into the week. He smashed his irons and putted it well (which he normally does), but he’ll have to hit more than six fairways in each of the next three rounds to be considered a factor.
T35. Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas (+3) — Last week, 3 over was all the way out of it after Round 1. This week? It’s very much in the hunt going into Friday. Woods is the biggest name among those who shot 73 on Thursday, and he stumbled to that number late by making bogey at the last three holes in his round. He had a right miss going off the tee for most of the day, and that was what bit him on two of the last three holes and led to those bogeys. You don’t have to drive it perfectly at Olympia Fields, but with how fast and firm the greens were playing in Round 1, it becomes very, very difficult to stop your ball in any kind of scoring position from some of the longer stuff, even with short irons. Woods struck the ball well, and he used his creativity on and around the interesting greens at Olympia Fields, but he’ll need to be cleaner overall (and especially with driver) over the last three days if he wants to truly be in the hunt.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, updates and highlights below. Check out the live scores at the top of this story, a more detailed leaderboard and our complete viewer’s guide.
3 players under par after day 1 of the BMW Championship.The last time there were fewer than 3 under par after the opening round of this event: 1940.
72.9 is currently the field scoring average for the day; on pace for the 2nd-highest single round in FedExCup Playoff history (since 2007). 2nd round at Liberty National in 2009 averaged 74.36.
73 for the Cat. Bad finish for him, but he won’t be that many strokes back when everybody is done.
This would be the fewest players under par in the opening round of the BMW Championship/Western Open since 1976, when there were only 4.
?No.1 watch:@JonRahmpga could return to no.1 with a solo 3 finish, or a 4-way T2, or [email protected] with a solo 2nd or a [email protected] with a [email protected]_morikawa with a winMore details later on… #BMWChampionship
Sick shot by Tiger into No. 6, a par 3. Held it up into the wind and barely landed it on the green. Can’t fake it this week!
That Tiger shot is only available when the course is firm. Another reason for trying for firm week in week out.
Mackenzie Hughes is the first to get to -3. He’s up two on the rest of the field.
The Cat makes a working par at No. 4 to stay at E. Let me tell you, E is a good score today. Will probably end up being two strokes better than the field average.
This course is a dream right now. Fast and firm. Hard as hell. I’m loving the golf shots that players are forced to hit right now.
Have to say I did not envision Billy Horschel, Tyler Duncan and Mackenzie Hughes being tied for the lead at this point in the tournament.
Watching a fast and firm Olympia Fields the week after 254 won a professional golf tournament. pic.twitter.com/UBSDl1IbBs
Tiger birdies No. 2 after a bad drive. Got up and down from 122 away in the rough. Sweet second shot.
Tiger has had a right miss going on of late off the tee. Not great, especially at a place like this.
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