You’d think a 7-under 64 would be the talk of Bethpage Black, but instead leader Padraig Harrington faced question after question about his quest for a Ryder Cup spot. “The only answer I can give at this stage is I'm pleading the Fifth Amendment.”
The Irishman started things off by posting a 1-under 35 on the front 9; then came the noise.
From 11 to 17, he went 6-under, birdieing all but the Par 4 15th. He didn’t need to show off the putter much, sticking his approach on all but the treacherous 17th within 12 feet or less.
Like Paddy, Rickie Fowler, who’s just three shots out of the lead, had an eventful afternoon. The 24 year-old made 4 consecutive birdie putts on 13-16 to give him, and his rather large following something to cheer about. The key to his round was his patience, which is something necessary to all golfers trying to make a run this week. "I tried to stay as patient as I could all day, and I finally got one to ten feet or so, got a good putt, rolled it in.”
The marquee group of Tiger, Rory, and Zach Johnson proved to be as good as advertised, although the Trio all finished just outside the top 10. Woods commented that he thought his putting “was really good”, and it looked just as it did in the PGA Championship – good early. He’ll need to string together a few more good performances with the blade before thinking about taking the first playoff event. He and Johnson finished tied for 14th at 3-under, while Mcilroy shot a 2-under 69.
Round 1 of the Tiger-Rory showdown went to El Tigre.
Last week’s winner at Wyndham, Sergio Garcia finished two shots back at 5-under, while defending Barclays champ Dustin Johnson sits three behind.