5 Things: Van Pelt leads The Barclays; McIlroy struggles

Bo Van Pelt fired an opening-round 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead at The Barclays.
Bo Van Pelt fired an opening-round 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead at The Barclays. ( Associated Press )

Friday, August 22, 2014

The FedEx Cup Playoffs got underway Thursday in Paramus, N.J., with the first round of The Barclays.

And it was Bo Van Pelt grabbing the opening-round lead with a 6-under 65 at Ridgewood Country Club. Van Pelt leads a group of eight players tied for second one shot back at 5 under, a group that includes Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk.

Here are 5 Things you need to know from Thursday at The Barclays:

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1. BO GOES LOW: A couple of hot streaks put Bo Van Pelt in sole possession of the lead through one round of The Barclays.

Van Pelt started his day with three straight birdies on holes 1-3, but wasn't done for the day. After firing off 12 straight pars, Van Pelt went eagle-birdie on Nos. 16 and 17 to move to 6 under for the day.

Van Pelt finished with a 6-under 65, one stroke better than a pack of eight at 5 under that includes Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

"It was good to get off to a good start like I did. You want to get ahead of this golf course," said Van Pelt.

Van Pelt has missed nine cuts this season, finishing inside the top 10 only once in 23 events. He most recently tied for 14th at the Wyndham Championship.

"I felt like my game got better as the year went on. Some good things happened last week, so I felt like that was encouraging and I like this golf course," said Van Pelt.

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2. NO. 1 STRUGGLES: Rory McIlroy poured in a 32-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth Thursday, ending his round on a high note. But that note didn't last long, as the FedEx Cup points leader proceeded to sign a scorecard that read 3-over 74, tying for 102nd through 18 holes.

McIlroy, who has won the last three events in which he's competed, struggled on the back nine of Ridgewood Country Club (his first nine holes). McIlroy shot a 4-over 40 before the turn, including a double bogey on the par-4 12th, where he drove into the rough, hit into a greenside bunker on his approach, came up short of the green out of the bunker and three-putted for the double.

"I tried really hard to get some momentum going for the round and couldn't do that," McIlroy said.

McIlroy, who used his length and accuracy off the tee to separate himself from the field at the PGA Championship, hit only 50 percent of the fairways Thursday, although his driving distance of 310 yards ranked third among the field at The Barclays. It was the putter that failed McIlroy, as well. His strokes gained-putting (-1.200) and putts-per-green-in-regulation (1.83) numbers were 93rd and T-79 among the field, respectively.

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3. HUNTER HEATS UP: Hunter Mahan showed what he's capable of once his putter gets going, putting only eight times over the final six holes Thursday. Mahan went 4 under during that stretch, finishing his round at 5-under 66 and tied for second.

"I hit it solid today off the tee and got a good run at the end," Mahan said. "There were some opportunities to make birdie today with the holes being a little bit shorter so you can attack them. The greens are rolling so true right now it feels like you can make anything inside 30 feet."

Mahan entered The Barclays at No. 62 in the FedEx Cup Standings and No. 42 in the Official World Golf Ranking. His five missed cuts this season are his most since 2010 (six) and his seven top 25s are his lowest since 2006 (six).

But Mahan could be seeing a resurgence. He finished T-7 at his last event, the PGA Championship, and he improved upon his season averages in driving accuracy, greens in regulation and strokes gained putting during his round of 66 Thursday.

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4. GOOD KARMA: Cameron Tringale carded an opening-round 66 at The Barclays, his strong start to the FedEx Cup Playoffs coming after Tringale disqualified himself from the PGA Championship a few days after tying for 33rd at Valhalla.

Tringale turned himself in after deciding that he had made double bogey instead of bogey at the 11th hole during his final round of the PGA. Cameron said that when he went to tap in a 3-inch putt for bogey, his putter swung over the ball. He and fellow competitor Matt Jones originally agreed that it was not a stroke. But after he left Valhalla, the situation still weighed on him, and after reviewing his week on Tuesday after the tournament, he reached out to the PGA.

"The more I played it out in my head ... if I play well, if I make it to East Lake (Tour Championship), would I have been there if I did take a 5?" Tringale told The Associated Press. "So I just felt it was better to get it out and take myself out than to just be questioning and wondering for the rest of my life."

At No. 61 in the FedEx Cup standings, Tringale still has a ways to go if he wants to make it into the Tour Championship. The DQ dropped him eight spots in the standings and cost him $53,000 in prize money, but it has given him a clear mind.

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5. NOT GREAT, BUT NOT BAD FOR LEFTY: Phil Mickelson isn't having the best of seasons. He enters the week at 47th in the FedEx Cup standings and is in danger of missing his first Tour Championship since the event became the finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

However, he is coming off his best performance of the year – a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.

Looking to keep that momentum going, Mickelson opened with an even-par 72 at Ridgewood Country Cub. He hit just eight fairways and 11 greens – "too many," according to Mickelson. But he managed to go bogey-free on the back nine and his three birdies have him still in the mix.

"You just don't want to get off to too bad a start on Thursday," Mickelson said. "I didn't play great. I had a rough front nine and kept it at even par which is a good thing, because if I get it turned around and shoot a low one tomorrow, I can get right back in it."

Golfweek's Brentley Romine, The Associated Press and PGA Tour contributed to this report.

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