Tiger Woods needed about 11 hours to finish his opening round at the U.S. PGA Tour’s first playoff event, where he waited out two thunderstorm delays in shooting a 4-under-par 67 that left him three shots behind leader Kevin Stadler, who shot 64.
Stadler and Woods were both bogey-free yesterday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, where 63 of the 123 golfers in the field were unable to finish their first rounds due to six hours of delays.
“It was a long day,” Woods said after saving par with a 6 1/2-foot putt on his final hole, the par-4 ninth.
The first round is scheduled to be completed today along with the start of the second round. British Open winner Phil Mickelson was among yesterday’s scheduled afternoon starters and, because of the delays, was only able to finish six holes.
Mickelson is tied for 41st place at 1 under, having made two birdies to recover from a bogey on the first hole, where he hit his tee shot into a creek.
Stadler, 33, made birdies on seven of the first 13 holes yesterday as he seeks to continue his upward swing at the Barclays, which rotates between a group of courses in New York and New Jersey. Stadler, who is winless in 230 PGA Tour starts, missed the cut for weekend play in his first four appearances at the tournament before tying for 64th in 2011 and finishing in a tie for 10th last year.
“I’ve had kind of a pretty lousy summer, result-wise, but really started hitting the ball a lot better a couple weeks ago and was looking forward to playing some golf again here recently,” said Stadler, whose best showings since May were a pair of 27th-place finishes. “I felt like I was heading in the right direction, even though the results were not showing it and finally got something out of it.”
At 7 under, Stadler is one stroke ahead of fellow American Ryan Palmer, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Camilo Villegas of Colombia. Villegas was 8 under yesterday before making back-to-back bogeys late in his opening round.
American Matt Kuchar is 5 under along with Jason Day of Australia.
“You can get out of your rhythm, but I think the guys out here are pretty used to the delays and restarting,” Kuchar said after the Barclays became the 20th PGA Tour event this year to have some kind of delay. “It was nice for me to come out and shoot 5 under, play some good, steady golf.”
Woods, who’s won five PGA Tour events this season and leads the FedEx Cup point standings, started his round on the 10th hole yesterday morning and made par before thunderstorms halted play for about 2 1/2 hours.
After returning to the course, which has views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Woods ran off three straight birdies from holes 14-16. The storms returned as he was on the 17th hole, resulting in a suspension of about 3 1/2 hours.
After the second stoppage, Woods parred 10 of 11 holes, the exception being a birdie on the par-3 fourth hole after he hit a tee shot to within eight feet of the flag.
“You could be so aggressive going into the greens, you didn’t have to worry about anything bouncing,” said Woods, who won FedEx Cup titles in 2007 and 2009. “A couple of those short irons you had to worry about maybe spinning the ball back too much, but looking at most of the scores, guys are being really aggressive and just making a bunch of birdies.”
The top 125 players in the season-long FedEx Cup point standings qualified for the Barclays. Woods entered the tournament with a 766-point lead over Kuchar in the competition for the FedEx Cup title and its $10 million bonus.
The top 100 players on the points list following the Barclays qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. After that, the top 70 move on to the BMW Championship outside Chicago from Sept. 12 to 15.
The top 30 in the standings then compete for the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship in Atlanta from Sept. 19 to 22.