On the range, Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball was going. Some five hours later, he had a share of the course record in Medinah, Ill.
Ultimately, all that mattered Thursday in the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship was taking a good step toward an important goal. Thomas already is set for the Tour Championship next week and the chase for FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize. That’s not what interests him.
“I don’t give a crap about the money,” he said. “It’s about winning tournaments.”
He made his first birdie after hitting a tree on the fourth hole, leaving him a 5-iron he hit to 2 feet. His last birdie was a putt from about 60 feet on the fringe from the back of the 16th green. He did enough right in between for a 7-under-par 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak.
They had a one-shot lead over 49-year-old Jim Furyk, a former FedEx Cup champion who hasn’t been back to the Tour Championship in five years. Patrick Cantlay, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover and Brandt Snedeker also were at 66, while the large group at 67 included Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele and Cal alum Collin Morikawa.
The others to post 65 at Medinah were Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Skip Kendall at the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006.
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Woods won both those majors. Winning the second FedEx Cup playoff event might be a lot tougher.
One week after he withdrew with a mild oblique strain at Liberty National, Woods could only manage a 71. All but two players in the 69-man field were at par or better on a Medinah course that was soft from bursts of rain earlier in the week.
Woods is projected to need a top-10 finish this week to advance to the Tour Championship, where he is defending champion. After one round, he was tied for 50th.
“It’s just not sharp,” Woods said. “I’m trying to make changes in my swing, and it’s just not quite there yet.”
U.S. Amateur: Austin Squires, the last man to make it into the 64-player match-play field, won two matches to advance to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals for the second straight year.
However, it was a tough day for Bay Area golfers in Pinehurst, N.C., as Serra High and Stanford alum Isaiah Salinda and St. Mary’s Blake Hathcoat each lost in the round of 16. But Australia’s Karl Vilips, who has made a verbal commitment to Stanford, made it to the quarterfinals with wins over Americans Steven Fisk and Brad Dalke.
Squires, who opened with a win over qualifying medalist Brandon Wu of Stanford 2 up, beat Stefano Mazzoli in 19 holes in the round of 32, then topped John Pak 2 and 1 in the round of 16.
Only three of the world’s top 25 amateurs reached the round of 16 — and none of them made it to the quarterfinals. That leaves No. 38 John Augenstein as the highest-ranked remaining player.
European Tour: Gavin Green of Malaysia shot an 8-under 64 for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Czech Masters at Vysoky Ujezd.
Erik van Rooyen and Lee Slattery shot 65s to tie for second.
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