Snedeker’s 63 tops opening birdie barrage in BMW
By Herb Gould Staff Reporter September 12, 2013 9:21PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:21AM
The temperature was down. The wind was up. The scores were down. The crowd was up.
And nobody enjoyed the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest on Thursday more than Brandt Snedeker.
Birdieing his fourth through 10th holes, the defending FedEx Cup champion fired an opening-round 63. That 8-under par performance highlighted the birdie-fest that the PGA’s top 70 players put on for a sellout crowd estimated at 25,000. Muggy 90-degree practice rounds yielded to lower heat (a high of 81) and humidity, making everyone feel better.
“It was one of those days where everything seemed to go right in the middle of the round,’’ said Snedeker, 32, a former Vanderbilt standout who started his round on the 10th hole. “I made a great birdie from off the green on 13 that got everything moving in the right direction. I hadn’t been playing the best, to say the least. To get on a roll like that is always welcoming.’’
Although he has had his moments in majors the last couple of years, Snedeker hadn’t finished higher than 33rd in five tournaments since he won the Canadian Open in late July. After missing the cut and tying for 47th in the first two FedEx Cup tournaments, he came to the BMW ninth in the standings.
“My main goal was to be in the top five going into the FedEx Cup finale [in Atlanta next week],’’ Snedeker said. “That’s my goal this week, and I’ve done a great job of putting myself in position [to have] a chance to retain the Cup that I’ve cherished for a year.’’
With virtually the whole field firing at pins with wedges and short irons, the BMW is wide-open, to say the least. Predictions that the winning score will be around 18- to 20-under-par seem accurate, but it’s still early.
Twenty-eight of the 70 players finished the first round in red numbers. Zach Johnson (64, 7-under) is one shot behind Snedeker. Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel and Kevin Streelman are three shots back after shooting 5-under par 66s.
But Johnson cautioned that things could change.
“If the wind stays this potent and out of this direction,’’ Johnson said of a strong north wind that exerted its influence late in the day, “it’s not going to be that easy. But yeah, you’re going to see low numbers. That’s just the way this course sets up.’’
After making seven birdies and two bogeys in his opening round, Woods lamented missing too many opportunities.
“I certainly wasted a lot of shots,’’ said Woods, who spoke sarcastically about parring all three par-fives. “I missed three short [putts] and played the par-fives stupendously. One of those days. I’m not exactly real happy. I played well; I just didn’t get much out of the round.’’
Stricker expects lower temperatures and higher winds to make scoring more difficult.
“Everybody says the defense for this course is the wind,’’ Stricker said, “and I think we’re going to see that. I’m sure it’ll play more difficult.’’