The Northern Trust leaderboard is littered with low numbers after one round. Of the 121 golfers starting the day, only 40 finishers were even par or over par. 29 of the finishers were over and the highest was Patrick Rodgers at +4. Aaron Baddeley withdrew after four holes when he was +2.
The remaining 80 have minus symbols next to their score. The cut line is projected anywhere from -4 to -2. Troy Merritt leads the tournament with a -9. Shortly behind him, many of golf’s biggest names show up.
Dustin Johnson recorded a -8. His playing partners, Jon Rahm and Webb Simpson don’t trail far behind at -7 and -6 respectively.
“Everything looked easy and we fed off each other,” said Rahm. “One of us was always close and we were trying to get it closer than the next person and making putts. There was a good vibe in the group going on.”
Rahm added some comments on the state of the course. “The only reason why I think it’s possibly a little easier is because the greens are so soft. You have a lot of holes where there’s a slope that’s going to push the ball towards the pin and you can be aggressive.”
However, the biggest name in the sport did not match the scoring output of the opening round. Tiger Woods stumbled on the back nine (he teed off 10). Woods flew from green side bunker to green side bunker on 12 for a bogey, appeared to stabilize with a birdie on 13, but lost it on 14. His drive sailed into hazardous grass for a stroke penalty. He followed by double bogeying the hole and bogeying 17 as well. Woods recorded two birdies on the front but matched it with two bogeys. The final tally was +4.
“I just didn’t play well,” observed Woods. “I just didn’t hit any good shots and didn’t make any putts. Other than that, added up to a round that broke 80.” Tiger added a comment on his back: “It’s a little bit stiff, yeah, but that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
With the line as is, Tiger is likely to miss the cut unless he dramatically turns his game around. Tiger is capable of the magic needed, but this is an increasingly mortal Tiger, not the dominant force of a decade ago.
Woods and partners JT Poston and Scott Piercy tee off the front at 12:33 pm ET on Friday.
Other notable Friday tee times:
- Troy Merritt-Front, 12:11 PM ET
- Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm- Front, 12:55 PM ET
- Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar- Front, 1:06 PM ET
- Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau- Back, 7:54 AM ET
- Tony Finau & Chez Reavie- Front, 12:44 PM ET