British world No. 1 Luke Donald signaled an ominous warning to his FedExCup playoff rivals by firing a five-under-par 66 in Friday’s opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The Englishman mixed six birdies with a lone bogey to lurk just one stroke off the pace set by American Troy Matteson at the TPC Boston.
Entering this week’s event, the second of the PGA Tour’s four lucrative playoff events, Donald occupies fifth spot in the overall standings and trails FedExCup leader Dustin Johnson by 1,583 points.
The long-hitting Johnson also made a good start on Friday and was among a large group, including PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, former Masters champion Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler after carding a three-under 68.
Matteson, a double winner on the PGA Tour, opened his round with a bogey at the 10th, but rebounded with seven birdies the rest of the way to take control at the top.
He began this week a precarious 97th in the FedExCup standings and well aware he needs to sparkle at the TPC Boston if he is to advance.
The leading 70 players after the Deutsche Bank Championship move on to the BMW -Championship at Cog Hill before the top 30 qualify for the Tour Championship finale at East Lake.
Donald got off to a fast start with a birdie at the first, but dropped a shot at the second before immediately responding with consecutive birdies.
Further birdies at the seventh, 10th and 11th put him at five under and seemingly on track to claim the outright lead, but he parred his way home to stay one shot off the pace.