Newton Square, PA – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy carded matching 62s on Thursday to secure a share of the first-round lead at the BMW Championship.
Starting from Aronimink’s 10th tee, Woods opened his round with three birdies in his first four holes, and closed eagle-par-birdie to turn in 29.
On his inward nine, Woods added three more gains against a lone bogey to sign for 62 – the second-lowest opening round of his PGA Tour career.
Afterwards, Woods cited the switch back to a Scotty Cameron putter for his improved performance on the greens.
“I’ve been monkeying around with it back home and in the backyard,” said Woods, when asked why he hadn’t switched sooner.
“It never felt right. It feels good, you know. I know I explained to Robert over there, I know the release point and I know how it swings and my body morphed into a position where it understands where it needs to be to release the putter.
“I’ve hit hundreds of millions of putts. I’ve had it since ’99. I’ve hit putts with it.
“I just — my body just remembers it. When I go away from it — and, you know, when I was using the Nike putter I always bring it out and hit putts with it. Sometimes it works but it just feels very familiar to me.”
Co-leader McIlroy, meanwhile, had the ’59 watch’ going after stringing together a six-pack of birdies on Nos. 9-14 to reach 9 under through 14 holes. But the Northern Irishman dropped two shots down the stretch, and finished his final four holes at 1 over to share the marquee with Woods at 8-under 62.
“If someone had given me a 62 on the first tee this morning I would have taken it,” said McIlroy. ‘
“So, it’s a great way to start the golf tournament. My game feels obviously in really good shape. There’s a lot of good signs out there. My approach play, my wedge play has been much better. I putted well.
“Basically did everything well and looking forward to getting back out there early in the morning and trying to get it going again.”
Xander Schauffele offset one bogey with eight birdies, highlighted by seven in an 11-hole stretch (Nos. 6-16) en route to a 7-under 63.
The 24-year Californian was alone in third, one shot clear of Justin Thomas, Billy Horschel, Peter Uihlein, and Alex Noren, who were tied for fourth at 6-under 64.
Rickie Fowler, Ryan Armour, Byeong Hun An, and Aaron Wise were one further back at 5-under 65.
The 29-year old Fowler, who missed the first two legs of the playoffs, looked impressive in his first start of the postseason, signing for a bogey-free round comprised of 13 pars and five birdies.
A logjam of eight more players were T12 at 4-under par, headlined by Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, and Webb Simpson.
Bryson DeChambeau, winner of the first two legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, was among a group of 10 players tied at 3-under par 68. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day were a couple of other marquee names at T20.
U.S. Ryder Cup hopeful Tony Finau shot 2-under par 68 to sit T30, one clear of world No. 2 Brooks Koepka (69), and two ahead of world No.1 Dustin Johnson (70).
Defending champion Marc Leishman struggled to a 4-over 74 and was tied for last-place alongside fellow Aussie Adam Scott and Brendan Steele.
2018 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
TOP 10: FIRST ROUND
1. Tiger Woods -8
1. Rory McIlroy -8
3. Xander Schauffele -7
4. Billy Horschel -6
4. Peter Uihlein -6
4. Justin Thomas -6
4. Alexander Noren -6
8. Ryan Armour -5
8. Byeong Hun An -5
8. Rickie Fowler -5
8. Aaron Wise -5
THE LEADERS’ STATS
Rory McIlroy – 333.6 yards (4th)
Tiger Woods – 318.9 yards (18th)
Rory McIlroy – 11/14, 78.6% (T6)
Tiger Woods – 9/14, 64.3% (T28)
Rory McIlroy – 16/18, 88.9% (T3)
Tiger Woods – 16/18, 88.9% (T3)
Rory McIlroy – 1.438/23 putts (2nd)
Tiger Woods – 1.500/24 putts (T4)
Tiger Woods – 1 Eagle, 7 Birdies, 9 Pars, 1 Bogey
Rory McIlroy – 10 Birdies, 6 Pars, 2 Bogeys
FEDEXCUP TOP 10 PROJECTIONS
The top five players entering the Tour Championship will control their own destiny and will win the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.
Here’s a look at the top 5 (and 10) projected after round one:
1. Bryson DeChambeau (T20) 1st
2. Justin Thomas (T4) 5th
3. Justin Rose (T12) 3rd
4. Rory McIlroy (T1) 24th
5. Tiger Woods (T1) 25th
6. Dustin Johnson (T49) 2nd
7. Tony Finau (T30) 4th
8. Brooks Koepka (T38) 6th
9. Bubba Watson (T57) 7th
10. Cameron Smith (T57) 8th
VIDEO: ROUND-ONE HIGHLIGHTS
What is it like knowing you shoot 62 and look up on the leaderboard and seeing Rory going ahead of you?
TIGER WOODS: You definitely could do it today. The fairways are ample wide and the greens are soft and so — and the positives right now, we’re driving it down there anywhere between 310 and 340 and so it’s really not that long a golf course right now. Lot of wedges and you have to hit your wedges well, get your distance.
Give yourself at least 10, 12 looks at putts and you get on the hot run like I did, I’m sure what Rory is doing right now you can do it.
Rory, I realize this is projecting past tomorrow, how much fun would it be to have the leaderboard of you and Tiger on the top this weekend?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it would be awesome. Tiger is sort of being a regular fixture on the leaderboard this year. Carnoustie was a lot of fun with him up there. Even at Bay Hill when we were sort of both in contention and hearing the cheers from up ahead. So, yeah, it would be cool.
There’s a long way to go and just need to get out there and play some good golf tomorrow. I think with the way the conditions are, especially with the rain that’s forecast tomorrow, I can’t see the scoring being any different than what it was today.
I think there’s going to be a lot of guys going very low and probably see quite a bunched leaderboard at the end of the week.