Rory McIlroy holed a miraculous chip-in birdie on his way to shooting a 5-under-par 65 and earning a share of the first-round lead at the BMW Championship on Thursday at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.
By day’s end, the Northern Irishman was tied with Open champion Brian Harman for the lead at the second leg of the three-week FedEx Cup playoffs. Harman carded three birdies on the front nine, three on the back, with a bogey at the par-4 12th hole.
One shot back were World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, reigning U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk, Sahith Theegala and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick at 66.
McIlroy turned in a bogey-free round despite hitting just three of 14 fairways in regulation on an uncharacteristically poor day with his driver. At the par-4 17th hole, his drive missed far left and his second shot snuck between trees and rolled over the back of the green.
That set him up for a 40-foot pitch shot that gently rolled into the left corner of the cup for his fifth and final birdie of the round.
The defending FedEx Cup champion, McIlroy entered the week No. 3 in the standings and Harman ranked ninth. The top 30 players after the completion of this tournament will qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship next week in Atlanta.
Theegala and Fitzpatrick are doing what they can to play their way into the field. Theegala entered the week No. 31 in the standings — first man out of Atlanta — and Fitzpatrick is No. 40. Theegala’s round included a 167-yard hole-out for eagle at the par-4 14th.
Fowler was tied for the lead at 5 under when his drive at No. 17 splashed into a water hazard. He finished the round bogey-par. Scheffler was even at the turn before birdieing Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 15 to move up the leaderboard.
Tied for ninth at 3-under 67 were Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young and Canadian Corey Conners. Spaniard Jon Rahm, the FedEx Cup leader entering this week, opened with a 2-under 68, as did Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
Lucas Glover, the 43-year-old who has won each of the past two weeks on tour, carded an even-par 70.
—Field Level Media
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