MEDINAH, Ill. – Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball went. Five hours later he had a share in the course record in Medinah.
Ultimately, the only thing that was important on Thursday in the BMW championship was to take a good step towards an important goal. Thomas is already ready for the Tour Championship next week and the chase for FedEx Cup and the $ 15 million prize. He doesn't care.
He said he didn't care about the money and added, "It's about winning tournaments."
He made his first bird after he hit a tree on the fourth hole, leaving behind a 5-iron that he hit up to 2 feet. His last bird was a well of about 60 feet on the pony from the back of the 16th green. He did enough in between for a seven-under-par 65 and part of the lead alongside Jason Kokrak.
The others who placed 65 & # 39; s on Medina were Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Skip Kendall at the P.G.A. Championships in 1999 and 2006.
Woods has won both tournaments. Winning the second FedEx Cup playoff event may be a lot harder.
A week after he retired from Liberty National with a mild, slanted trunk, Woods could only manage a 71 who felt weak compared to everyone else. All but one of the players in the 69-man field were on an equal footing or better on a Medinah course that was soft earlier in the week due to rain eruptions.
Woods is expected to need a top 10 finish this week to advance to East Lake, where he is the title defender. After a round, he was tied for the 50th.
"It's just not sharp," Woods said. "I'm trying to make changes to my swing, and it's not quite there yet."
The good news for Woods? He says he didn't feel any tightness in his slant.
"I just have to clean up my laps and get going," he said. "It seems that the entire field is below par."
That starts with Thomas, who hasn't won since the World Golf Championship event a year ago. He didn't think there would be such a chance as he warmed up Thursday morning.
"I'd probably say I've had the worst warm-up I've ever had in my life, morning," he said.
The goal on the way to the first tee was to find something that he could use without causing too much damage.
"I've let that happen a lot of times, just not quite as extreme," Thomas said. "I'm usually pretty good at finding a golf course and finding something, but did not expect that today. "
Kokrak has the Tour Championship in mind. Along with a chase for the $ 15 million, just reaching East Lake is an invitation to the Masters, and that is He never played in. He played the par 5s in five under – including an eagle at number 10 when he ran a 30-meter shot from the rough – and made only one bogey.
Kokrak, who never won in 207 starts as a professional on the PGA Tour, is number 32 in the FedEx Cup, and the top 30 after this week continues to the Tour Championship, where there will be a staggered start based on par for the last event.
The leader starts at 10 am The 30th player starts with eve n par.
The goal for Kokrak is to get there.
"I thought about cracking some numbers and seeing what I had to finish, but I think putting myself in a good position to win a golf tournament will do the job," he said. "I don't think I have to worry about where to finish in the tournament. I'd rather go out and try to win."
The co-leaders had a one-off lead over Jim Furyk, a 49 -year-old former FedEx Cup champion who is not back to East Lake in five years, Patrick Cantlay, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover and Brandt Snedeker were also at 66, while the large group at 67 included Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.
Dahmen and Morikawa have a different view.
Morikawa ended a little over two months ago at the University of California, Berkeley, and had limited time to try and get a PGA Tour card. He did that with a win at the Barracuda Championship, and along with his second place in Minnesota, he is coming out at number 57 this week with an outside shot at the Tour Championship.
"It is definitely a goal of me now, & Morikawa said. "D I have achieved these goals for this summer does not mean that I will stop here. I am not satisfied with the end of my season here. It is clearly very nice and I am grateful that I am here after the victory. But it doesn't stop here.
Dahmen, a cancer survivor who reached the BMW Championship for the first time in his career, is number 63 in the FedEx Cup and said he felt free.
"I am so far away from East Lake," he said. & # 39; My wife actually asked me that earlier this week. I think it would be much more difficult if you were in a place where you had to finish 30th to reach East Lake. You still have to grind it every day to sneak into that number, and then you look a little at the number. Where I have to be in position to be on East Lake, I am actually trying to win the golf tournament.
“East Lake is clearly a goal, but I am going to the golf tournament and trying to win a golf tournament, East Lake would be a product of that. "