Snedeker takes control with a 63

LAKE FOREST. Brandt Snedeker wielded a red-hot putter to pile up a PGA Tour season-best seven consecutive birdies on the way to a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the BMW Championship.
Snedeker reeled off seven consecutive birdies from the 13th to rocket to the top of the leaderboard. Net photo.
Snedeker reeled off seven consecutive birdies from the 13th to rocket to the top of the leaderboard. Net photo.

LAKE FOREST. Brandt Snedeker wielded a red-hot putter to pile up a PGA Tour season-best seven consecutive birdies on the way to a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the BMW Championship.

The fast-talking American fired a flawless eight-under-par 63 despite tricky, gusting conditions at Conway Farms Golf Club to seize control of the third of the PGA Tour’s four lucrative FedExCup playoff events.

Helped by a 40-foot putt which he sank from the back fringe of the green at the par-three 17th, his eighth hole of the day, Snedeker reeled off seven consecutive birdies from the 13th to rocket to the top of the leaderboard.

Compatriot Zach Johnson opened with a seven-birdie 64 and world number one Tiger Woods shot a 66 to end the day level with fellow Americans Steve Stricker and Kevin Streelman, and South African Charl Schwartzel, but Snedeker commanded the spotlight.

“It was one of those days where everything seemed to go right in the middle of the round,” Snedeker, the reigning FedExCup champion, told reporters after totaling only 22 putts in an eight-birdie display.

Woods, seeking his sixth PGA Tour victory this season, was not in the best of moods after failing to birdie any of the three par-fives On the par-71 layout.

Northern Irish world number four Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, battled to a 78 while former world number one Lee Westwood fared even worse, carding a nine-over 80.

Seventy players have qualified for the elite BMW Championship, the PGA Tour’s penultimate playoff event, and any improvement in the overall FedExCup points standings after Sunday’s final round could be crucial.

Of the 30 who advance to next week’s season-ending Tour Championship, any of the top five would automatically clinch FedExCup honors and a staggering $10 million bonus with victory in Atlanta.

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