FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – If you were looking for a suspenseful, dramatic recount of a heated head-to-head battle between the No. 1 and No. 3 players on the FedEx Cup points list, you won’t find it here.
Because that’s not what happened today between Tiger Woods (68) and Rory McIlroy (69) in the opening round of The Barclays.
What did happen, was two of the game’s greatest players were paired together for the first time in a PGA Tour event, they each played their own games, and they each played well.
Woods got off to a slow start with four opening pars on holes 10 through 13 before dropping his first birdie at the par-3 14th. Woods remained steady on Bethpage Black’s back nine – his opening stretch – and made the turn at 1 under.
Woods dropped another three birdies on his back side to just one bogey for an opening round of 3 under.
He found nine out of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens and needed 28 putts on the round. Woods looked effortless and comfortable on his jaunt around Bethpage Black.
'I was surprised that some of the pins, how much easier they were, because we're used to seeing them tucked over there three or four from the side or up against the back sides or just over ridges,' Woods said. They gave us plenty of room, and when you get soft greens like this with plenty of room, the guys are going to tear it apart.'
McIlroy started strong with three birdies in the first six holes, but carded three bogeys and one more birdie in the next 12 holes for a 2 under on the day.
Woods and McIlroy were friendly with one another all day long. No signs or rivalry, no signs of resentment.
'It's always good (playing with Tiger),' McIlroy said. 'It's nice, especially the first round of a tournament. It always adds a little bit of intensity ... I feel it just focuses you from the get-go.'
'He's a nice kid, he really is,' Woods said of the 23-year-old.