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Golf

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Associated Press
BMW Championship leader Brandt Snedeker reacts after missing a birdie attempt Thursday in Lake Forest, Ill.
Golf

Snedeker fires 63 to lead BMW Championship

– Brandt Snedeker was making so many birdies that even an 18-foot putt looked like a mere tap-in.

When he finished his amazing run Thursday in the BMW Championship, he had seven straight birdies on his card and an 8-under 63 at blustery Conway Farms.

“You get on runs like that, you get excited for the next hole because you know something good is going to happen, because you’re in such a good frame of mind and everything is going in the right direction,” Snedeker said.

In this case, everything was going in – a 15-foot putt from the fringe on the 13th, another 15-footer on the next hole when he used the blade of his sand wedge to bump the ball out of the short rough, and a 40-footer from the fringe on the 17th stood out to him.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson in the third FedEx Cup playoff event. Tiger Woods sounded disgusted with his round of 66, mainly because he had a pair of three-putt bogeys and missed a 4-foot birdie putt over his last five holes.

“I’m not exactly real happy,” Woods said. “I played well, and I just didn’t get much out of that round. I missed three little short ones in there and then played the par 5s even par. That’s just not very good.”

Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel and Kevin Streelman also were at 66.

The opening round was mainly about the debut of Conway Farms, a Tom Fazio design north of Chicago that has a blend of strong holes and plenty of birdie opportunities on par 4s where players hit wedge for their second shot. Low scoring was predicted, and Snedeker’s round was proof of that.

But as the wind picked up and shifted directions, the course was far from a pushover.

Rickie Fowler opened with a pair of double bogeys, followed by a pair of bogeys. He rallied for a 77. Rory McIlroy made a double bogey – his ninth of the FedEx Cup playoffs – on his second hole, and then three-putted from 4 feet for a triple bogey and staggered to a 78. Lee Westwood, fighting severe pain in his back and ribs, had an 80.

“There’s a good mixture of really hard holes and really good birdie opportunities. I think that makes for exciting golf,” Phil Mickelson said after opening with a 70. “That’s why we have such a discrepancy in scores.”

The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup after the BMW Championship advance to the Tour Championship next week and a shot at the $10 million prize.

WEB.COM: In Columbus, Ohio, Jim Herman shot a 7-under 64 and built a two-shot lead over Sean O’Hair and Danny Lee among those who finished the rain-delayed opening round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship on the Web.com Tour.

This is the third of four tournaments in the Web.Com Tour Finals, where players are trying to earn PGA Tour cards. The first event was at Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne.

EUROPEAN: In Zandvoort, Netherlands, nearly two decades after winning this tournament, Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain shot a 6-under 64 for the first-round lead at the KLM Open. Jimenez, the 1994 champion, is the oldest player in the field at 49.

Robert Allenby of Australia and Gary Orr of Scotland were among a group of six players at 65.

LPGA: In Evian-les-Bains, France, the first day of play at the Evian Championship was washed out after heavy morning rain soaked the newly-designed course.

Players were on the course for less than one hour before being forced to come off, and organizers decided to restart the round on Friday with Thursday’s scores annulled.

“We’ve had nearly four inches of rain since Saturday and the golf course is extremely saturated at this point,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations. “It was clear when competitors were out this morning that conditions weren’t conducive to a fair and equitable competition. So the plan is to scratch those scores from today and have all players restart the first round tomorrow.”

Officials still hope to complete the tournament on time by playing 36 holes on Sunday.

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