Bo Van Pelt may have the first-round lead, but Hunter Mahan and Brendon Todd gave their Ryder Cup chances a boost Thursday at the playoff-opening Barclays. Here is the skinny on the first round at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
The leaderboard: Bo Van Pelt (-6); Jim Furyk, Brendon Todd, Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey, Cameron Tringale, Charles Howell III, Brendon de Jonge and Ben Martin at -5; Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Danny Lee and Russell Knox at -4
What it means: Though it’s an important week for all of the 122 players in the field, it’s especially so for players such as Todd and Mahan, who could move squarely onto the Ryder Cup radar with another solid week. Last week in Greensboro, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker all stated their case. Now, it appears, it is Todd and Mahan’s turn. Todd birdied three of his last four holes to join the logjam at T-2. Mahan, meanwhile, is one of only three players (Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson) to play in every FedEx Cup event since the series started in 2007. At No. 62 in the standings, this start certainly helps that streak.
Round of the day: Bo Van Pelt went birdie-eagle-par on his last three holes to seize the outright lead. It’s been a disappointing campaign for Van Pelt, but he has finished in the top 15 in two of his last three starts. At No. 104 in the FedEx Cup standings, he needed a good result just to prolong his season.
Best of the rest: Outside the top 20 just once since March, Jim Furyk kept on rolling Thursday with a six-birdie 66. He has finished in the top 5 in three of his last four starts, a streak that includes two majors. Talk about karma. Last week Cameron Tringale phoned the PGA of America to disqualify himself from the PGA Championship because of a potential violation, thus forfeiting about $53,000 and valuable FedEx Cup points. The golf gods rewarded his gesture with a 66 to sit just one shot off the lead. Tringale matched his best finish of the season (fourth) last month at the Greenbrier.
Biggest disappointment: After a sensational run over the past month, Rory McIlroy crashed down to earth Thursday with a 3-over 74 that he attributed to poor driving and a lack of preparation. It’s hard to blame the world No. 1 – who wouldn’t party in NYC after three wins in three starts? – but a missed cut in the playoff opener would take a bit of steam of his late-season surge. This was his first over-par round on Tour since the U.S. Open in June. Look for McIlroy to get back on track in the second round.
Main storyline heading into Day 2: At one point Thursday there were nine – nine! – players tied atop the leaderboard. Of all of the big-name players at 2 under or better – a group that includes Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose – which one will make a big move in the second round?