Hideki Matsuyama performs birdie on No. 7 in Round 1 at BMW Championship

One of the toughest tests of the year clarified that standard would be an incredible score at Olympia Fields. Leave it to Hideki Matsuyama to make a 65-foot birdie putt on his final hole Thursday to lead the BMW Championship.

Matsuyama, the Japanese player who has gone three years since his last triumph, birdied two of his last three holes for a 3-under 67, one of just three rounds under standard on a course that was long, extreme, firm, quick and not at all like the most recent fourteen days.

Tyler Duncan, simply outside the best 30 as he attempts to acquire his first outing to the TOUR Championship, made a 8-foot standard putt on his last hole for a 68. Mackenzie Hughes, one of just four players who arrived at 3 under anytime in his round, was another shot behind.

“I’m not sure really what I had going today, but that last putt, the long putt that went in, very happy with that one,” Matsuyama said. “So we’ll remember that one.”

Dustin Johnson, who won THE NORTHERN TRUST a week ago at 30-under standard, opened with a 71 and felt like it was a decent day’s worth of effort. He was informed that even three straight rounds of 60 would not be sufficient to arrive at 30 under at Olympia Fields.

“Yeah, but I would win,” he said.

By a landslide, no uncertainty.

Tiger Woods needs to complete around fourth to have any expectation of coming back to East Lake one week from now in Atlanta to pursue the $15 million bonus for the FedExCup champ. He was floating around even standard a couple of shots out of the lead. He got done with three straight bogeys for a 73 and was running hotter than the weather.

A three-time U.S. Open champion, Woods thoroughly understands control and persistence and key standards putts. And afterward he let a sensible round escape from him.

“The course was fine. The course is in perfect shape. Not the way I wanted to finish,” Woods said in brief comments.

The average score was 72.8, and just four of the 18 holes played under standard. That included both standard 5s. This is the thing that the U.S. Open could have used in 2003, rather than rain-softened conditions. It was hot toward the beginning of the day, preparing out a dry course. The harsh is 5 inches in spots. The greens were hard, making it extreme to get the show on the road shut down and about difficult to get shots to prevent on the green from out of the harsh.

“I think when golf courses become like this and pars are a premium, I think I’m almost more comfortable at times because you don’t feel like you’ll ever get left behind when you’re running off a few pars in a row,” Hughes said. “Like last week, if you got off to a slow start and you were even par through six holes you felt like you were getting run over.”

Rory McIlroy was among 10 players who completed at 70 and felt the day was a triumph. He hasn’t registered a best 10 since golf came back from the coronavirus shutdown in June, and he yielded to being lethargic without fan energy.

“I said last week if you need someone to shoot between like even par and 2 under, I’m your man,” McIlroy said. “So I’m loving these conditions. It’s sort of weird. The way my game feels at the minute, it’s just as easy for me to shoot even par here as it was last week in Boston, for whatever reason that is.

“But this is proper golf,” he said. “You’ve really got to think about stuff. … It’s nice to play a round of golf like that again.”

Likewise in that groupat even standard was Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, eminent in light of the fact that he was the most recent player to be assembled with Woods for the first time. He raved about how Woods controls the trip of his irons. He passed up the gigantic group on the grounds that there are no spectators, just trucks conveying the broadcast team.

“It’s probably the least amount of people he’s played in front of,” Ortiz said, “and the most for me.”

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