Rory McIlroy looks out of sorts and out of the running at the BMW Championship
Place in next week’s Tour Championship seems far away after first round 78 as Snedeker shoots a 63
Rory McIlroy stretches after hitting off the 15th tee during the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club yesterday. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy’s place in next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, looked perilously out of reach after a dismal first round yesterday in the BMW Championship at Conway Farms, outside Chicago. McIlroy shot 78, seven over par with Graeme McDowell finishing on 70, 1 under par.
As McIlroy continued to struggle with his game on a breezy day, defending champion Brandt Snedeker, who at one stage had a magical 59 in his sights but finished with an 8 under par 63, tore through the field in a first day of savagely swinging fortunes.
“I just kept trying to give myself birdie chances. I made a couple of long putts and you need that kind of luck with the wind blowing like that,” said Snedeker.
Tiger Wood’s also looked comfortable and relaxed as he kept in touch with the top of the field that also included Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel.
But none of the leaders could match leader Snedeker’s seven straight birdies from the 13th to the first hole as he set the course alight just as McIlroy slumped around the fairways wondering where all the magic in his hands had gone.
How many times this season has it been said McIlroy’s game is out of sorts. Yesterday that question seemed insufficient with “out of sorts” wholly inadequate as the longer the round went on the more his card resembled that of an average amateur player.
McIlroy, who started on the 10th hole couldn’t have had a worse beginning to his day, when he carded a double bogey 5 on the par 3 11th. The 24-year-old, who came into the Chicago tournament ranked 49 in the FedExCup standings needs to finish inside the top 30 of the overall rankings from a field of 70 to make it through to next week’s concluding event, the Tour Championship at East Lake GC in Atlanta.
The bottom line is that to make it to Atlanta, the Ulster man must finish inside the top eight this weekend. There is no cut, but on yesterday’s form that number looks increasingly remote.
The winner in Atlanta will receive a stunning $10 million from the $35 million prize pool as well as over $1.4 million as the tournament prize winner.
Last year Snedeker equated his $11.44 million payday to winning the lottery, when he finished with a three-shot victory over Justin Rose to win the Tour Championship and a trophy that came with $1.44 million. Add the $10 million bonus from the FedEx Cup, and it was by far the richest payday of his career.