Picking up where he left off last week, Tiger Woods took advantage of soft conditions to fire a 7-under-par 65 Thursday in the first round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, In. He fashioned nine birdies and two bogeys, and is tied for fifth place, one stroke behind Bo Van Pelt, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy and Graham Delaet.
The 70-player event is the third of four in the PGA Tour's FedExCup playoffs. On Monday, Tiger finished third in the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston, and entered the BMW Championship third in the points standings.
"I wasn't playing particularly well, but I scored," said Woods, who has won this tournament five times, all at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill. "I was very fortunate to post the number I shot."
A back-nine starter with McIlroy and Nick Watney, Tiger got off to a flying start with birdies at the 397-yard, par-4 10th and 595-yard, par-5 11th holes. At No. 10, he hit his approach shot from 163 yards within nine feet of the cup and made the putt. He followed with a 13-foot birdie putt at No. 11.
Following a par at No. 12, Woods flagged an 8-iron four feet from the hole at the 182-yard, par-3 13th and converted the birdie putt. He sustained his first bogey at the 497-yard, par-4 14th. Tiger drove into the right rough, hit his second shot in the left rough, then wedged to seven feet but missed the par putt.
He bounced right back with a three-foot birdie putt at the 523-yard, par-5 15th hole, then added another at the 470-yard, par-4 16th, knocking a pitching wedge from 157 yards to five feet. Tiger parred 17 and 18, missing a 10-foot birdie attempt at the latter, but still made the turn in 4-under 32.
On the front nine, Woods continued his torrid pace by pouring in a 17-foot birdie putt at the 358-yard, par-4 first hole. He made it two-in-a-row at the 442-yard, par-4 second, nestling his approach shot from 131 yards to within three feet of the cup.
"I had a backboard and used it to spin the ball toward the hole," Woods said.
After a par at No. 3, Tiger bogeyed the 483-yard, par-4 fourth hole. He drove into the shaggy rough on the right, gouged his second shot back into the fairway and wound missing a 15-foot putt.
Once again, Woods rebounded quickly with a six-foot birdie putt at the 621-yard, par-5 fifth hole. He hit a brilliant third shot from thick rough and a steep sidehill lie just right of the green.
"That was nasty," he said. "The lie wasn't very good. I was just trying to get the ball on the green."
Tiger nearly aced the 201-yard, par-3 sixth hole, the ball stopping five feet from the cup, but was unable to capitalize.
Following two-putt pars at No. 7 and 8, Woods closed with a scrambling birdie at the 530-yard, par-5 ninth. Tiger just missed the fairway on the right, then smashed a 3-wood near the grandstand on the left, the ball coming to rest in a spongy lie. He flopped his third shot short of the green, 30 feet from the pin, then chipped in for a birdie.
"Just a little 9-iron about a foot on the green and just let it trickle on down," said Woods.
Tiger birdied all four of the par-5s.
For the round, he hit 78 percent of the greens and 50 percent of the fairways in regulation and needed only 25 putts.
Due to extensive rain, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in their own fairway.
Woods enjoyed playing with McIlory, who won last week's tournament and is the current FedExCup points leader.
"It's a lot of fun," Tiger said. "This is the next generation of guys coming up. He hits it great, putts it great, and on top of that, he's a really nice kid. The game of golf is in great hands with him and it's good to see."
Woods begins second-round play Friday on the first tee at 9:39 a.m. ET with McIlroy and Watney.