5 Things: Stadler shines; Woods holds up

Kevin Stadler during the first round of the 2013 Barclays at Liberty National, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Kevin Stadler during the first round of the 2013 Barclays at Liberty National, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Much like she had done many times during the regular season, Mother Nature left her mark on the opening round of the PGA Tour’s first playoff event, The Barclays.

Two different weather delays Thursday at Liberty National totaled six hours – 2:32 for the first one (8:33-11:05 a.m.), 3:28 for the second (12:47-4:15 p.m.) – make the tournament the 20th event of the Tour season to endure a weather stoppage.

As a result, only the morning groups managed to finish their rounds before play was stopped because of darkness at 7:44 p.m. Thursday, meaning just more than half of the 123-player field will have to wrap things up early Friday morning.

“I’ve hit more balls today than I’ve hit in quite a while,” said Kevin Stadler, whose 7-under 64 gave him the early lead. He leads by one shot over Henrik Stenson, Ryan Palmer and Camilo Villegas – ranked ninth, 46th and 111th in the FedEx Cup, respectively.

The first round will resume at 7 a.m. Friday, with the second round beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the morning tee times running through 11:20 a.m.

Here are 5 Things you need to know from a long day along the Hudson River:

• • •

1. BONUS ROUND: Kevin Stadler entered The Barclays at No. 87 in the FedEx Cup standings and needing a good finish to qualify for the second of four playoff events next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

After carding a bogey-free 64 to take a one-shot lead after a long Thursday at Liberty National, Stadler is off to a good start in his quest to stick around for another week.

“I knew I had to play well to move on to next week, but at the same time it’s kind of out of my control, and it’s to the point where I was going to get what I was going to get,” said Stadler, who is playing in The Barclays for the sixth time in the playoffs' seven seasons. He’s advanced to the Deutsche Bank Championship three times, including last season when he made it to the BMW Championship after T-10 showings in each of the first two playoff events.

Stadler began the year making 10 of his first 14 cuts, posting two top-10 finishes during that span. But he enters the playoffs having missed six of his last 10 cuts, including two straight.

Yet, here Stadler is, leading in the clubhouse after a smooth opening round on what was otherwise a wild day in New Jersey.

“It’s probably a bonus the way I’ve been going lately,” Stadler said.

• • •

2. TIGER HOLDS UP WELL: While the weather failed to hold up Thursday, Tiger Woods' stiff neck and back were a different story.

Woods, who said Wednesday he was dealing with the stiffness after sleeping on a soft hotel bed, posted a bogey-free 4-under 67 to open The Barclays. Afterwards, Woods said his body stiffened up slightly following a second lengthy weather delay, but overall he held up just fine.

And his play around Liberty National showed it.

Despite just missing a few birdie putts, Woods managed to get four to drop. He missed four fairways and five greens; when he did get into trouble, his spot-on scrambling saved him.

"It's a long day and tomorrow (Friday) will be a short one, and Saturday will be pretty much a marathon," Woods told the Golf Channel after his round, which began at 8:10 a.m. and ended around 7 p.m.

After a par at No. 10, his opening hole, the horn sounded for the first stoppage. Upon coming back on the course, Woods put together a stretch of three straight birdies at Nos. 14-16. The horn blew for a second time with Woods facing a birdie putt at No. 17. A second return to the course produced one more birdie, at the par-3 fourth.

"The first delay we really didn't have that much time to get back out there; we had less than 30 minutes to warm up and play,” Woods said. “The third time we came out here and restarted, we had an hour, so that was nice to basically go through the whole warm-up team and get loosened up.”

Woods, the top-ranked player in the FedEx Cup standings, has won five times this season, most recently at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He’s searching for his third FedEx Cup title after winning in 2007, the first year of the playoffs, and in ’09.

• • •

3. RORY’S WILD RIDE: Looking at the final product, Rory McIlroy’s opening-round even-par 71 looked routine. But how he got there was anything but.

McIlroy didn’t record a bogey Thursday. He did, however, make three double bogeys – at Nos. 5, 9 and 15, all par 4s. Add in an eagle at the par-5 sixth and four birdies, and you get to level par.

"Colorful," McIlroy said of his round, which was just that. "I made a few silly mistakes out there."

It’s been a disappointing year for McIlroy – by his standards, of course. He has missed just two cuts on the PGA Tour this season – one was a withdrawal at the Honda Classic. And while he finished T-8 at the PGA Championship in his last start to earn his fourth top-10 finish in 12 Tour starts this season, McIlroy has no wins.

He enters the playoffs at No. 49 in the FedEx Cup standings a year after winning his second major, at the PGA Championship, and notching two playoff victories, at the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship.

He’s hoping for that late-season form to show up these next few weeks. The top 30 players qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

Take away the three double bogeys Thursday and McIlroy was pleased.

"I felt like I played well," McIlroy said. "Three 6s, which obviously doesn't help. But the rest of it was actually pretty good."

• • •

4. WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? On Thursday it was more like, what could the cart path across the hazard near the 16th green do for Scott Brown?

Set him up with the only eagle of the day at the 319-yard par-4 hole, that’s what.

Like many players Thursday, Brown went for the green off the tee at No. 16. His tee ball drifted a little right and looked as if it was heading straight for the water. But the ball hit a bridge and bounced onto the green, leaving Brown with a 3-footer for eagle.

That was about the only excitement, though, for Brown, who made 16 pars and a bogey on the other 17 holes en route to a 1-under 70.

• • •

5. SHORT SHOTS: Phil Mickelson got off to a rough start Thursday, sending his opening tee shot into the hazard at the par-4 first hole. He bogeyed the hole, but two birdies in his next five holes had Lefty at 1 under through six holes before play was stopped due to darkness. . . . Thursday's delays created an unusual listing for a tee time in a PGA Tour event: 7:10 p.m. for Stuart Appleby, Scott Langley and Ben Crane; they completed two holes. . . . Of the 18 hole locations for Thursday's round, 12 were just four paces from either the left or right side of the green. . . . Hunter Mahan, the only player who has yet to miss a start in FedEx Cup playoff history (25 events), opened with a 69 and stands T-25 at 2 under.

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