Tiger Woods set a target score, and Rory McIlroy matched it in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday. Should it prove to be a preview of the days ahead, well, it won’t necessarily upstage the opening weekend of the NFL, but it likely would put a dent in it.
Woods shot an eight-under-par 62 that included a 29 on his front nine at Aronimick Golf Club outside Philadelphia. A while later, McIlroy got to nine-under before settling for his own 62, and he and Woods share the lead.
It marks the first time Woods and McIlroy have shared a US PGA Tour lead.
“Biggest take away?” Woods said. “Made some putts. Got off to a better start than I have most of the season.”
Indeed, Woods entered the tournament ranked 140th on the tour in first-round scoring, forcing him to play catchup in the ensuing three rounds. He is seeking a first victory in more than five years.
McIlroy, meanwhile, made six consecutive birdies, starting on his ninth hole (the 18th at Aronimick). He made two bogeys late and closed with yet another birdie on his 18th hole.
“Obviously, today was good,” McIlroy said. “Yesterday in the pro-am I made seven birdies in a row on my back nine and shot eight-under for my last nine holes. Obviously, I was nine-under through 14 today. I think I played a 23-hole stretch in 17-under par. Pretty good.
“Eight-under-par was good. It probably should have been a lot better, but still a pretty good start to the tournament.”
Low scoring was not restricted to two of the marquee names in golf. Xander Schauffele, who won the Tour Championship last year, posted a 63, while Billy Horschel, a former FedEx Cup champion, Peter Uihlein and Justin Thomas, the defending FedEx Cup champion, and Sweden’s Alex Noren all shot 64s.
Bryson DeChambeau, who won the first two events in the FedEx Cup playoffs, opened with a three-under-par 67 and is tied for 19th.