Forget that shocking tie for 65th place finish that Tiger Woods posted in the Deutsche Bank Classic in Boston two weeks ago. That knocked the world’s No. 1-ranked player from first to second in the FedEx Cup Playoff standings, but that blip is a distant memory now.
Woods didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday in the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms either, but he still signed in for a 5-under-par 66. A number like that never hurts, and it could have been much lower.
“I certainly wasted a lot of shots out there,’’ said Woods. “I missed three short ones ( putts from inside five feet) and I played the par-5s stupendously. I’m not exactly happy. I didn’t get much out of that round.’’
Still, Woods went head-to-head with the Nos. 1 and 3 players in the FedEx Cup standings and whipped them both. Leader Henrik Stenson shot 72 and third-place Adam Scott 67.
Woods, the only player to win the FedEx Cup twice, had seven birdies on his scorecard, the round ending when a 23-footer dropped for the last bird at No. 9. Woods started play at No. 10, birdied that hole and then had five birdies against two bogeys before that last long one dropped.
Usually the par-5s are easy pickings, but Woods played them in even par. He didn’t see the course until Wednesday’s pro-am, and most that round was spent plotting strategy with caddie
Conway Farms got its real first test from Woods on Thursday. He success in Chicago has been legendary. The Western Golf Assn. staged its biggest tournament at Cog Hill, in Lemont, for 20 years, ending in 2011. Woods won the Western Open there three times and the BMW Championship on the same layout in 2007 and 2009.
The PGA of America brought its PGA Championship to Medinah in 1999 and 2006. Woods won both. Now he’s in position to win at Conway Farms as well. He enters Friday’s second round in a four-way tie for third, three strokes behind leader and defending FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker.
Numbers at least as good as Thursday’s will probably be needed if Woods is to stay with the leaders. Conway presented little problems in the first round, even with the wind kicking up and the temperature dropping when Woods was on his second nine.
“(The wind) was the only defense it had,’’ said Woods. “But it was still warm most of the day, so the ball was traveling and the greens were soft. Some of the holes we were hitting 3-wood just over 300 yards. The course played short.’’