September 06, 2018

Tiger Tied For the Lead at the BMW Championship

NEWTON SQUARE, Pa.  On Wednesday night, Tiger Woods made a big decision: he decided to return to his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter. It dates back to 1999 and has helped Woods claim 13 of his 14 major titles.

Using his third different putter in as many weeks, Woods blazed an 8-under-par 62 on Thursday in the first round of the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club to earn a share of the lead with Rory McIlroy in the third of four FedExCup playoff events.

“I’ve been monkeying around with it back home and in the backyard,” said Woods, who poured in 108 feet worth of putts. “It feels good. I know the release point, and I know how it swings, and my body morphed into a position where it understands where it needs to be to release the putter.”

After failing to break par in the opening round in 11 of his last 12 starts, Woods thrived in the 90-degree temperatures and secured a share of the first-round lead for the first time since the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship, which he won. He did it by burying seven birdies and an eagle.

Woods hit 16 greens, nine fairways and used 27 putts. He never hit anything longer than a 9-iron into a par-4.

A five-time winner of the BMW, 12 of Woods’ drives traveled 300 or more yards.

“You could definitely do it today,” he said. “The fairways are ample wide and the greens are soft. All the positives right now.”

The 62 was Woods’ lowest score since shooting a 61 in the third round of the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship. He has previously led or shared the top spot after 18 holes on the PGA Tour on 28 occasions and has converted 14 into wins.

Starting on the back nine with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, Woods fired a 6-under 29 thanks to birdies at 10, 12, 13 and 17, and eagled the par-5 16th. At the latter, he flushed his second shot with a 3-iron from 240 yards to five feet.

“That was a good one,” said Woods.

It was the sixth time he has broken 30 on a side, the first since the second round of the 2007 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta when he posted a 28. He has now bettered 30 on his first nine of a PGA Tour tournament three times, posting 29’s at the 1999 AT&T Byron Nelson and 2000 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Woods, who went through four shirts Thursday in the heat and humidity, paced the 69-player field in strokes gained on approach shots and ranked seventh in strokes gained, putting.

“I’ve hit hundreds of millions of putts,” he said his old Cameron model. “My body remembers it. Sometimes it works but it just feels very familiar to me.”

Woods entered the tournament ranked No. 25 in the FedExCup point standings. Following play on Sunday, the top 30 players advance to the Tour Championship, Sept. 20-23 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Competing for the fifth time in six weeks, Woods opted not to play in the pro-am for the first time this season. After tying for 24th on Monday at the Dell Technologies, his body needed a break.

“I needed a day to recover and make sure I was fresh,” said Woods, who played nine holes with McIlroy on Tuesday. “Disappointed I didn’t play in the pro-am but it was also the best thing for me.”

Due to the threat of inclement weather, second round tee times have been moved up from 7-9 a.m. ET. Woods starts on the first tee at 8:06 a.m. ET with Spieth and Fowler.