Tiger Woods Breaks Par But Falls Way Behind at BMW Championship

Daniel Rapaport

The good news for Tiger Woods is that he broke par. The bad news is so did everybody else.

Woods shot one-under 71 on Thursday at the BMW Championship, a round that saw him fall toward the bottom of the leaderboard in the second of three FedEx Cup playoff events. Making his first start since withdrawing from last week's Northern Trust with an oblique strain, Woods showed no signs of physical discomfort and swung freely on a balmy day at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

He got off to a hot start, birdieing his first hole of the day after a terrific shot from a fairway bunker.

Scroll to continue with content

When he added a second birdie by jarring a 40-footer on 3, it looked like Woods might be able to conjure up some more magic at Medinah, where he won the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships.

But as the birdies flowed all around him, Woods's round stalled considerably, due mostly to an inability to find the short grass. Woods hit just seven of 14 fairways, which is a must on the 7,600-yard course whose chief defense is its penal rough. Woods also missed a number of enticing birdie opportunities, finishing the day with -1.1 strokes gained putting.

Remarkably, Woods has not broken 70 in the first round of any tournament this year (in 12 starts). He shot a two-under 70 in the first round of the Masters.

Woods has his work cut out for him if he is to qualify for next week's Tour Championship. To do so, he'll need to rank inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings after this week, a task made more difficult by a barren stretch of results since his Masters victory. Woods is making just his sixth start since Augusta and has just one top 10 in that stretch, to go along with two missed cuts and the withdrawal. He entered this week at No. 38 and will likely need a finish of 11th or better to reach East Lake, where he won his 80th PGA Tour title and first since spinal fusion surgery last September.

Woods has another incentive to right the ship this week. He is the Presidents Cup captain, and eight of the 12 spots on the team will be filled by automatic qualifiers when the points standings lock after Sunday. Woods mathematically cannot reach the top eight even with a victory, so if he is to be a playing-captain, he will need to use one of his four captain's picks on himself.

If he doesn't make the Tour Championship, Woods will likely have only one or two more tournaments to impress before the Cup begins Dec. 13 in Australia. He is committed to playing in the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan in October, but the rest of his schedule remains a question mark.

On a more immediate note, Woods will get another crack at Medinah on Friday when he tees off his second round at 10:37 a.m. EST.

What to Read Next