The first leg of the FedExCup is off and running at the Ridgewood Country Club outside of New York City. Lift, clean and place was in play on Thursday, but the golf course proved to be a stern enough test for the best in the world. Leaderboard
Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark, Sean O'Hair and Vaughn Taylor are your first round leaders after they each fired rounds of 66. Playing together in the first group of the day (ahem), Lovemark and Tway put on quite the show. The pair combined for twelve birdies and just two bogies as they posted the number to beat very early in the day.
Tway, Lovemark, O'Hair and Taylor were all 85th or worse in the FedEx Cup standings coming into this week. The foursome has dabbled in top 10s throughout the season, but only O'Hair has seriously contented in 2018. Their 66s were vastly different in terms of makeup, but all three players finished the day in the top 19 of SG putting. That is usually not the sign of sustained success (because the putter can always cool off), so we’ll see if one of them can hold on this week.
On Their Six
Unfortunately for the leaders, 26 players finished within 2 shots of the lead after Thursday. Wet golf courses have the tendency to limit scoring variance, so this is not surprising. Among that group on the leaders’ tails are Hideki Matsuyama (67), Tommy Fleetwood (67), Dustin Johnson (67), Brooks Koepka (67), Paul Casey (67), Bryson DeChambeau (68), Phil Mickelson (68), and Peter Uihlein (68).
Dustin’s round was one of the most interesting of the day as he fired a round of 7 birdies, 10 pars, and 1 triple. He struggled off the tee on Thursday and still managed 7 birdies, a bad omen for the rest of the field.
Hideki Matsuyama has had a very benign year. It has partially been hindered by injury, but he has just not been the same as the dominant player we saw in 2017. His brand of golf is exciting when he is playing well, so hopefully he can continue this form for an extended period of time.
Other Leaderboard Notes
Paul Casey is officially on the clock to audition for a Ryder Cup spot over the next few weeks. He started very well on Thursday and finds himself just a shot off the lead. A win or a few high finishes would make it impossible for Thomas Bjorn to not put him on the European team.
Speaking of the Ryder Cup, prospective American captains picks Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson played very well on Thursday. Bryson has been in very poor form as of late, so he will need to turn it back on for us to feel confident about him on the team.
Tiger struggled to an opening round of even par. Nothing went horribly wrong, but he could never get any rhythm going on Thursday. He finds himself close to the cut line heading into Friday.
Bubba Watson is not playing good golf. Since May he has played in 9 events, missed 4 cuts, and finished inside the top 30 of an event twice. One of those happens to be a win at the Travelers. That is almost four months of golf, and he has only played well for four days? Not good.
The Web.com Tour finals also got underway on Thursday in Columbus, OH. The Swede Henrick Norlander is on top after the first round after a first-round 64. Robert Streb is one back followed by Kramer Hickok, Ben Crane and Ben McCarthy. Of the players in the top 10, only Hickok has guaranteed his PGA Tour card for next season. Leaderboard
As the millennials would say, the LPGA Tour leaderboard this week is LIT. The CP Women’s Open in Saskatchewan, CA got started on Thursday, and tons of the best women in the world have shown up to play. World #1 Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead while fan favorites like Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda, Christie Kerr, Georgia Hall and Brooks Henderson are all within striking distance. Full Leaderboard
On the Site
Lay back and have the angle, or hit driver and have a wedge to the green? That is the question that Gil Hanse asks of you on the par-4 2nd hole at Streamsong Black. Read the full breakdown and watch the video of the hole in this week’s On the Skillet.