Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Hideki Matsuyama didn’t have his game all together on the front nine.
Luckily, he put together the best nine-hole stretch of anyone Thursday to put himself in the lead at the 2020 BMW Championship. Matsuyama has a one-stroke lead over Tyler Duncan after shooting a three-under 67 in the opening round of the second FedEx Cup tournament.
After making the turn at one over par, Matsuyama shot a 31 over his final nine holes, knocking down a putt from 67 feet out to cap off his round.
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
After round 1 @BMWchamps:
1. Hideki Matsuyama (-3)
2. @tduncgolf (-2)
3. @MacHughesGolf (-1)
4. @harryhiggs1991 (E)
4. @Abraham_Ancer https://t.co/KrQjxxIFdC
Mackenzie Hughes is in third place at one under and was the final player to shoot an under-par score in the opening round at Olympia Fields in Illinois. Ten golfers, including Rory McIlroy, are tied for fourth place at even par.
The field of 69 golfers struggled amid major-like conditions, featuring strong wind gusts and a firm course that made even basic shots have a high degree of difficulty.
“This golf course is set up more like a U.S. Open than it is a regular Tour event. But this is the playoffs. It’s supposed to be hard. … Pars will be at a premium, putting the ball in the fairway and trying to keep the ball in the correct spots. The greens are quick, hard and firm for now. The weather is supposed to be really hot the next three days and maybe breaking Friday night. But until then this is going to be a very difficult golf course.”
Woods is tied for 35th place after carding a three-over 73. He bogeyed his final three holes, missing par putts inside 10 feet on each hole.
“The course is in perfect shape,” Woods said after the round, per Daniel Rapaport of Golf Digest. “Not the way I wanted to finish, but the golf course is playing difficult for sure.”
The BMW Championship is the final event before the season-ending Tour Championship next week. Woods need to finish no worse than sixth to have a shot at qualifying for the event.
Duncan and Hughes would move into the top 30 if their performances carried over into the weekend.