Harrison Frazar fired a 64 and fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and William McGirt matched him at seven-under to lead Thursday’s weather-hit first round of The Barclays, the opening tournament of the FedExCup playoffs.
Frazar had four birdies on the front and three on the back in a bogey-free round, while McGirt (through 11) birdied seven of eight holes and last year’s winner Kuchar (16) birdied six of seven before darkness forced 51 players from the course.
Kuchar won The Barclays last year when it was played at Ridgewood, and McGirt was the last player to qualify for the FedEx Cup at No. 125 on the points list.
Afternoon starters began their rounds at Plainfield Country Club late due to a three-hour, 15-minute suspension due to lightning. Officials worried about further delays from storms forecast this weekend with the approach of Hurricane Irene.
Trailing the co-leaders by one stroke at 65 were Vijay Singh of Fiji and the US’ Jonathan Byrd. Joining them at six under par was Chris Stroud, through 13 holes.
Thursday’s rain added to more than a foot that fell on the Plainfield Country Club course last week and softened up the sloping greens.
Players in the elite field for the first of the four-event season-ending series that pays a bonus of US$10 million to the overall points winner, took advantage with 37 of the 60 morning starters breaking par under lift-clean-place provisions.
“The course is very soft,” said Frazar, 40, who notched his first PGA Tour win earlier this year at the St Jude’s Classic. “The fairways are plugging. There was mud on the balls. The shots into the greens are just hitting and just stopping where they are.”
Singh, the 2008 FedEx Cup champion, overcame a double-bogey at the par-three third hole by posting eight birdies, while Byrd eagled the par-five fifth to offset a pair of bogeys.
“It wasn’t easy out there, swirling wind and the rain delay,” 48-year-old Singh said.
In the clubhouse two strokes off the pace were Australian Adam Scott and Americans Ryan Palmer and Charley Hoffman at five-under 66.
Twelve players posted 67, including FedEx Cup points leader Nick Watney, fellow American Bo Van Pelt and Australian Jason Day.
Scott surged up the leaderboard with a first nine of 31 that featured just one par along with five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys after starting on the 10th hole.