Woods, McIlroy steal the show on Day 1 of Barclays
- By Jason Sobel
- Aug 23, 2012 5:02 PM ET
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – In order to claim one of the ultra-desirable early-morning tee times at the famed Bethpage Black course, golfers often must sleep in their cars in marked parking spaces overnight, then wake up rubbing the crust from the corners of their eyes as they amble toward the first tee box.
Seems easy by comparison.
Playing their first official PGA Tour round together, Woods bested his younger opponent by a stroke in The Barclays opening round, shooting 3-under 68 to McIlroy’s 69. They were good, solid scores, but hardly anything spectacular on a day when the Black instead appeared black and blue, the punishment being inflicted by professionals who seemed more than happy to find the course in non-U.S. Open conditions.
Even though Woods contended “it's not quite the same atmosphere as a U.S. Open,” the chorus from the usual nocturnal hackers on the outside looking in exceeded any other on a recent Thursday morning.
That’s because holding a big-time tournament at the Black with Rory and Tiger as the main attraction is golf’s equivalent to having the NBA Finals at Rucker Park, featuring one-named superstars such as Kobe and LeBron.
The best way to describe it? This was an intimate setting on a big ballpark. Intimate in how the one-namers were received.
When McIlroy pounded a drive on No. 1 over the dogleg to 329 yards away in the dead center of the fairway and followed with a flip wedge to 12 feet, he was met by the baritone of an overbearing gallery member: “Hey, gotta do better than that from there, Rory!”
Marshals were growing hoarse from imploring spectators to quiet down and put away their cell phones. Tiger was exalted as “Your Majesty” on more than one occasion. Things were screamed as tee shots sailed into the sky. Many things.
And guess what? As they say around here: You ain’t seen nothing yet. With Tiger and Rory scheduled to tee off at Beer O’Clock on a Friday afternoon in New York, this has potential to be the most get-in-the-holiest, you-da-maniest, mashed-potatoest, baba-booeist crowd we’ve witnessed in years.
Not that it should rattle either of them. (Or “third wheel” Zach Johnson, who posted a 68 of his own in the first round.) There’s a certain comfortability between Woods and McIlroy that doesn’t often exist between elite competitors. Throughout the opening round, they could be seen chatting each other up while walking down fairways and sharing a laugh on teeboxes.
When Rory claimed one day earlier that if he faced Tiger in a Ryder Cup match he’d “kick his ass,” Tiger merely laughed from the back of the interview room. Tension? It’s nonexistent between these two.
“Actually we had lunch straight after yesterday,” McIlroy revealed. “He just said, ‘There's no way in hell you're kicking my ass.’ Obviously it was just a joke, and it was funny, and we had a laugh out of it, so it was good.”
They were both good on the course Thursday, too, as they so often are.
McIlroy started hot, with birdies on three of his first six holes, but added three bogeys en route to his sub-70 score. Woods opened more cautiously, posting pars on eight of his first nine holes, then added three birdies down the stretch to stay well within striking distance of first-round leader Padraig Harrington, just four strokes back.
“I shot 3‑under par, and I'm not even in the top 10,” said Woods, comparing the conditions to the U.S. Opens that have been played here. “I'm all right. I didn't quite hit the ball as well as I would like. I'm going to do some work this afternoon and work on a couple things that I know I need to shore up for tomorrow. But very pleased with the way I putted. I putted great today.”
“I feel like the way I played, it was good,” McIlroy explained. “It definitely could have been a few shots better. But I'm happy with how I played.”
Break out your favorite cliché. Both of ‘em have been there, done that before. They understand that tournaments aren’t won on Thursday. They just have to play the course and not worry about each other.
For the world’s best golfers, this was only the beginning. On Friday, they should be the focus of a raucous, rambunctious crowd at Bethpage. If that’s not good news, then this is: At least they get to sleep in. And no, unlike the usual regulars here at the Black, it doesn’t have to be in their cars.
A common phrase this year – ''Tiger's back'' – took on a new meaning Friday at The Barclays. Woods felt a twinge in his lower back when he awoke and felt pain throughout the second round at Bethpage B... Read More
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