Hunter Mahan holed eight birdies yesterday on his way to a 62 that gave him a four-stroke lead at The Barclays, the PGA's FedExCup playoff opener.
Mahan goes low; locals struggle
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Local golfers Dean Wilson and Parker McLachlin had inauspicious starts in the opening round of the FedExCup playoffs yesterday at The Barclays in Paramus, N.J.
While first-round leader Hunter Mahan opened up a four-shot lead with a blistering 9-under 62, Wilson and McLachlin were on the other end of the spectrum. Wilson shot a 1-over 72 to land in a tie for 65th, some 10 shots off the lead.
McLachlin sat out last week after playing seven consecutive events, but the rest didn't do him much good. He opened with a 3-over 74 and is tied for 102nd entering today's second round.
Since both golfers already have earned a spot at next week's Deutsche Bank Championship, a good showing at this week's PGA Tour event isn't a must, but it would help if they want to play through to the end.
McLachlin entered this week's tournament in 54th place on the FedExCup leaderboard. Wilson is a few spots back in 70th place.
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Hunter Mahan, above, leads Paul Casey by four, and five others are five strokes out of the lead.
PARAMUS, N.J. » With two perfect shots, Hunter Mahan put a terrible week at the PGA Championship behind him at The Barclays.
"I was surprised to shoot so low. I didn't have any idea what was going to be a good score out there. It's definitely not that easy."
First-round leader in New Jersey
Playing in calm morning conditions at demanding Ridgewood Country Club, Mahan split the fairway with his opening drive, then watched his 98-yard sand wedge shot spin back into the hole for an unlikely eagle. Seventeen holes and eight birdies later, he signed for a 9-under 62, good for a four-stroke lead yesterday in the FedExCup playoff opener.
"I was surprised to shoot so low," Mahan said. "I didn't have any idea what was going to be a good score out here. ... It's definitely not that easy. It's perfect conditions. You've got great weather. The course is in perfect shape right now. Playing in the morning helped a lot. The greens were a little bit more receptive."
Two weeks ago in the PGA at Oakland Hills, the 26-year-old former Oklahoma State player shot 81-79 to miss the cut, and made news with critical remarks about the Ryder Cup in a Golf magazine interview.
"I wanted to get that out of my system and just play golf today - and I did," Mahan said. "It was a pretty tough week, but you learn from your mistakes."
England's Paul Casey shot a 66, and Bo Van Pelt, Kevin Streelman, Mathew Goggin, Charley Hoffman and afternoon starter Dudley Hart had 67s. Steve Stricker, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club, topped the group at 68.
Trying to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team as one of Paul Azinger's four captain's picks, Mahan hit 11 of 14 fairways, 15 greens in regulation and needed only 23 putts.
"The greens are good. I mean, they're perfect. Perfect speed," Mahan said. "I think you can be aggressive. I was committed to my lines and made aggressive strokes."
Mahan birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 7, holing putts from 21, 12 and 4 feet, to get to 5 under. He bogeyed the par-3 eighth, got the stroke back with a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 10 and added a 14-footer on 12.
On the 615-yard, par-5 13th, he hammered a 332-yard drive, hit a 3-wood 265 yards to just short of the green and chipped to 4 feet to set up another birdie. He followed that with a curving 40-footer on the par-3 14th, and capped the round on the par-4 18th with a 180-yard shot to 3 feet for his eighth birdie.
Mahan, 31st in the FedExCup standings, established the course record in the first PGA Tour round on the A.W. Tillinghast-designed layout - a composite of Ridgewood's three nine-hole courses.
"I thought the scores weren't going to be as low," Phil Mickelson said after his morning 70. "Hunter had such a great round and there were some 4- or 5-under-par rounds. So my 1-under-par round is not as good as I thought it would be, but I thought I played well and I'll take it."
With the groupings based on FedExCup points, Mickelson played alongside British Open and PGA winner Padraig Harrington (72) and Kenny Perry (69), effectively the points leader with top-ranked Tiger Woods sidelined by a knee injury.
"The rough here is terrible," said Perry, returning from an eye injury that forced him to withdraw after the first round of the PGA.
The 48-year-old Perry, a three-time winner this season, wondered how Mahan managed to shoot a 62 on the tree-lined course that places a premium on accurate driving.
"It never ceases to amaze me, the PGA Tour," Perry said. "There are tournaments where I'll shoot 6 or 7 under and that's as good as I can play and the winner is 21 under and I'm thinking, 'How did they do that? Did they quit after 15 or what?' "
Lee rolls along at U.S. Amateur
PINEHURST, N.C. » Danny Lee, the world's top-ranked amateur at 18, cruised past both of his opponents in match play and moved within three wins of supplanting Tiger Woods as the youngest champion in U.S. Amateur history.
He dominated Clemson freshman Jacob Burger 5 and 4 in the second round, then defeated Wichita State's Connor McHenry 7 and 6 in the round of 16.
Derek Fathauer needed extra holes in both of his matches, including 22 to outlast Kevin Tway. He sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Muntz up by 1
ZANDVOORT, Netherlands » Rolf Muntz birdied three straight holes to start the back nine and shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 64 to take a one-stroke lead in the KLM Open.
Denmark's Soren Hansen, who hasn't finished better than a tie for 64th in any of his previous four events, overcame a double bogey 6 at No. 9 with four birdies on the back to shoot 65 and share second with John Bickerton.