NORTON, Mass., Sept. 3 — In today’s bizarro golf world, Tiger Woods ended his rain-drenched first round at the Deutsche Bank Championship three shots from the bottom, while three golfers in the same group shot a combined 23-under to sit atop the TPC Boston leaderboard.
Jason Day, Zach Johnson, and Ryan Moore pinged and ponged off each other’s stellar play all day, with Day and Johnson leading the pack with 8-under 63s and Moore just one off the lead. This, on a day when officials let players lift, clean, and place their balls because of incoming stormy weather from Hurricane Earl.
Unbelievable. “It was an unbelievable day,” Palmer told reporters after completing his morning round and before rain delayed play for 75 minutes. “I’ve never been a part of a group like that in any round of golf on tour…and for us to play like that and shoot 23-under par, it was awesome and fun. We all fed off each other and had a great time.”
Johnson was pleased with the “conservative” course set-up, designed to minimize the storm’s impact. “The course was there for the taking,” he said. There was minimal wind, and the greens were absolutely perfect. So with that, those two combinations, it just makes for an accessible day.”
Not so for Woods, who got off to a god-awful start with four bogeys in his first six holes but was able to get some of it back with three birdies.
Not a good day. “I didn’t drive it very good, I didn’t putt good, I didn’t hit my irons good,” Woods said after finishing up his rain-delayed first 18 at 1-over 72. “Other than that, it was a good day.”
Sarcasm was the last thing you would hear from Day, a 22-year-old Australian who enjoys his golf.
No cranky golf. “I try and have as much fun as possible when I’m out there because it puts me in a good mood, and you can’t play golf cranky,” Day said. “It was just a really good, fun day.”
All three players got it going early. After Johnson chipped in from 20 feet for a birdie on his first hole (the group started on 10), Palmer jarred a four-footer, and Day knocked in his bird from 21 inches.
Awesome stats. In total, the threesome was fearsome. Day and Palmer each hit 12 fairways and 14 greens, with Johnson finding 10 fairways and 13 greens. The flat sticks worked as well, as Johnson needed just 23 putts, Day 24, and Palmer 27.
On the other end of the spectrum was Woods, who continued to miss tee shots left, as he did several times during Thursday’s pro-am. In addition to missing eight of 14 fairways (seven of them to port), he struggled with his short irons. A chunked wedge shot from tall fescue on 14 led to a chip shot that missed by a few feet to the right, and he left another iron shot short on the par-five second. Woods also started on No. 10.
Soggy weather. In Woods’ defense, he was on the rough side of the draw, having to play during afternoon downpours. But, so did a lot of other guys who managed to take advantage of the beneficial tee and pin placements. Geoff Ogilvy, for example, shared the lead late into his round until back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17. A birdie at 18 put him at 7-under for the day.
“I just didn’t have it today,” Woods said. “I wasn’t really doing what I was supposed to be doing out there swing-wise [or with the putter]. Obviously, I’m going to have to shoot something pretty good out there tomorrow. [Whatever the weather conditions are], I’m going to have to shoot a good score.”
Early tee time. He’ll have to do that soon just to make the cut and move onto the BMW Championship, the next stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Unless the storm lingers longer than expected, Woods will tee off at 7:12 a.m. Saturday.
The projected cut line hovered around 1-under after Friday’s play. The top 70 will advance to the BMW event. Woods entered Boston at No. 65 in FedEx Cup points, but was projected to finish out of the mix, at 76, after Friday’s round.
As for the other Johnson in the field, Dustin was two strokes clear of DFL.
Despite his errant tee shots during Thursday’s pro-am, Woods expressed optimism about his game. Read how the still top-ranked golfer was upbeat about his chances at the Deutsche Bank Championship.