LAKE FOREST – Brandt Snedeker was making so many birdies that even an 18-foot putt looked like a mere tap-in.
When he finished his amazing run Thursday in the BMW Championship, he had seven straight birdies on his card and an 8-under 63 at blustery Conway Farms.
“You get on runs like that, you get excited for the next hole because you know something good is going to happen, because you’re in such a good frame of mind, and everything is going in the right direction,” Snedeker said.
In this case, everything was going in – a 15-foot putt from the fringe on the 13th, another 15-footer on the next hole when he used the blade of his sand wedge to bump the ball out of the short rough, and a 40-footer from the fringe on the 17th stood out to him.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson in the third FedEx Cup playoff event. Tiger Woods sounded disgusted with his round of 66.
“I’m not exactly real happy,” Woods said. “I played well, and I just didn’t get much out of that round. I missed three little short ones in there and then played the par 5s even par. That’s just not very good.”
The opening round was mainly about the debut of Conway Farms, a Tom Fazio design north of Chicago which has a blend of strong holes and plenty of birdie opportunities on par 4s where players hit wedge for their second shot. Low scoring was predicted, and Snedeker’s round was proof of that.
But as the wind picked up and shifted directions, the course was far from a pushover.
“There’s a good mixture of really hard holes and really good birdie opportunities. I think that makes for exciting golf,” Phil Mickelson said after opening with a 70. “That’s why we have such a discrepancy in scores.”
No one had less experience on the course than Mickelson, who had some personal issues earlier in the week that kept him from playing the pro-am. He didn’t arrive in Chicago until Wednesday night and had never seen the course until he stood on the first tee Thursday.
Mickelson did not want to talk about what kept him away. When asked if it was a family matter, he said, “Everything is fine. I’m here now, I’m ready to play. But I just needed to be a little cautious this first round before I attack it tomorrow.”