Two of the game’s biggest stars shined brightest outside Philadelphia during the first round of the BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy flirted with golf’s magic number — 59 — before settling for a pair of 8-under par 62s to share the first-round lead.
Woods went out first and did something he hasn’t done all season: start well. The 14-time major champion birdied three of his first four holes and added an eagle and another birdie to go out in 6-under par 29 on the front side. Through 10 holes, Woods was 7-under par, playing a par-70 golf course and staring down the barrel at a sub-60 round.
Incredibly, Woods wasn’t alone in his quest for (further) golf immortality. McIlroy turned a solid 4-under par on the front nine into 9-under par through 14 holes thanks to six straight birdies spanning holes No. 9 to 15.
“Got off to a better start than I have most of the season and as of right now, I’m one back,” Woods said as McIlroy continued his round. “Just the way it goes.”
Both Woods and McIlroy stalled coming down the stretch. Woods sandwiched a bogey on the 17th hole with birdies at 16 and 18, but never was lower than 8-under par. McIlroy got to 9-under shortly after Woods finished his round, but back-to-back bogeys on his 16th and 17th holes of the day derailed any shot he had at 59.
”It was one of those days where it was out there,” McIlroy said.
Knotted at 8-under par, Woods and McIlroy are only one shot clear of Xander Schauaffele at 7-under par. 11 guys are within three shots of the lead at Aronimink Golf Club heading into the weekend.