Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak were struggling with their swings, but that was on the driving range.
Thomas (pictured), the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, and Kokrak shot matching 7-under-par 65s to share a one-stroke lead after the first round of the BMW Championship, second event of the playoffs, at www.medinahcc.org Medinah Country Club just outside Chicago.
Only the top 30 players in the point standings will advance to the Tour Championship next week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
“It probably had the worst warm-up of my life, so I had no expectations, which might have been a good thing,” said Thomas, who seems to be back on top of his game after missing time because of a right wrist injury earlier this year. “It was good, an easy round, if you will.
“I drove the ball well and when I did get out of position, I was still able to get on the green and two-putt. The fairways were soft and that certainly was an advantage.”
Thomas, who started the week 15th in the point standings and will take the lead to East Lake with a victory this week, birdied four of the last six holes on the front nine and strung together three birdies in a row through No. 16.
Kokrak, who is on the outside looking in at No. 32 in the points and needs a high finish to qualify for the Tour Championship, had three birdies on each nine to go with a hole-out eagle from 86 yards on No. 10 after making his only bogey one hole earlier.
“I didn’t have anything on the range, but I found it once I got to the golf course,” said Kokrak, who has six pro victories, but none on the PGA Tour. “The course plays tough, but you are able to attack some greens if you hit the fairway.
“This is my first time playing here, but a friend of mine gave me a scouting report and that helped, so a shout out to him. I’m looking forward to making the Tour Championship, but there are 54 holes to go and I have to keep playing well.”
Jim Furyk, the 49-year-old who won the 2010 FedEx Cup and is 48th in the point standings, sank a 10-foot eagle putt on the fifth hole en route to a 66 and is tied for third with 2012 FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker (No. 22), Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA (No. 6), Lucas Glover (No. 41) and Joel Dahmen (No. 63).
Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, No. 7 in the standings, totaled 67 and is in a massive tie for eighth with Rickie Fowler of Murrieta (No. 17) Adam Scott of Australia (No. 14), Tony Finau (No. 19), Rory Sabbatni of Slovakia (No. 45), Scott Piercy (No. 35), rookie Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal (No. 57), Adam Hadwin of Canada (No. 51) and Chez Reavie (No. 18).
FedEx Cup points leader Brooks Koepka finished at 68 and is in a tie for 17th that includes Patrick Reed (No. 2), who won The Northern Trust last week, defending FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose of England (No. 12), Jon Rahm of Spain (No. 5) and Abraham Ancer of Mexico (No. 8).
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the 2016 FedEx Cup champion who is No. 3 in the standings, is tied for 25th at 69, while 2015 FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth (No. 44) shot 70 and is in a tie for 36th that includes Dustin Johnson (No. 10) and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (No. 9).
Tiger Woods (No. 38), the only two-time FedEx Cup champion (2007 and 2009) who withdrew after one round last week because of a strained oblique, shot 71 and is in a tie for 50th that includes 2014 FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel (No. 39) and Matt Kuchar (No. 4).
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