MEDINAH – Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak each tied the course record with seven-under 65s to share the first round lead at the BMW Championship, the semifinals of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Tiger Woods struggled and finished six strokes off the pace.
Thomas began the day in a fog and ended his first round Thursday with a record-tying 65 and a share of the lead in the BMW Championship.
Thomas finished at 7-under 65 to share the lead with Jason Kokrak at Medinah Country Club. The twosome joined Tiger Woods (2006), Mike Weir (2006) and Skip Kendall (1999) as the only golfers to post a 65 on the course.
Jim Furyk, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Cantlay are tied for third at 6 under.
Thomas said he didn’t see the low round coming on the driving range earlier in the day.
“I couldn’t hit the ball,” said Thomas. “I had no idea what I was doing. … I mean, I probably would say that I had the worst warmup I’ve ever had in my life this morning.
“I didn’t know what it was going to do. I didn’t know how I was going to hit it. My dad and (caddie Jimmy Johnson) and I just kind of said that we were going to have to guess out there and just try to find something.”
What Thomas found: seven birdies, no bogeys and a sweet perch entering the second round as he goes for his fourth consecutive top-12 finish and a spot at East Lake for the Tour Championship next week.
He recorded four birdies on the last six holes of the front nine, then added three in a row from No. 14 to No. 16.
“I’m usually pretty good at finding my way around a golf course and finding something, but definitely didn’t expect that today,” Thomas said.
Kokrak responded impressively to his lone bogey of the day, at No. 9, making an eagle at the par-5 No. 10, when he sank an 86-foot chip shot from the rough. The rest of his round included six birdies and 10 pars.
Furyk continued his mastery of Chicagoland golf courses, registering four birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round.
Furyk won the Medinah event in 2005, when it was named the Western Open, and posted a 59 while finishing third at the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest. He also won the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields Country Club in 2003.
“Chicago has been good to me,” Furyk said.
Woods, who withdrew in the middle of the PGA Tour’s playoff opener last week at Liberty National in New Jersey due to an oblique strain, shot a 1-under 71 on Thursday. He is tied for 50th, well off the projected top-11 finish he needs to earn a place at East Lake, where he is the defending champion.
Woods notched three birdies and a bogey over the initial five holes, but he had two bogeys and just one birdie the rest of the way.
“I didn’t feel any tightness in my oblique at all, I didn’t feel any pull,” he said. “So that was a positive. I just need to clean up my rounds and get going. Seems like the whole field’s under par.
“I’m going to have to make a lot of birdies. There’s so many guys under par that I’m going to have to shoot some low rounds just to get back in it.”
–Field Level Media