Here is a recap of the first round of The Northern Trust, played at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y.:
LEADING: Russell Henley made eight birdies in his opening round, birdieing two of his last three to fire a 6-under 64. That was good enough for the solo lead. Thirty-eight players broke par on the day in all. Henley, a three-time PGA Tour winner, has only made it to the Tour Championship once (2014) but could wrap up another appearance pretty soon. Thanks to a win at the Shell Houston Open, Henley is currently 19th in the FedEx Cup standings. If he can hold near the top of the leaderboard for the next three days, Henley will be able to say his spot at East Lake is all but secured.
CHASING: Dustin Johnson had the round of the afternoon, firing a 5-under 65 to move within one of Henley’s early target. Johnson bogeyed No. 2, but he then was flawless with six birdies and no bogeys over his last 16 holes. Three players – Chris Kirk, Scott Brown and Camilo Villegas – are tied for third at 4 under. Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen are among several T-6 at 3 under.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Plenty of luck here, but what a birdie-3 from Rickie Fowler, who is tied for 12th after a 2-under 68.
QUOTABLE: “I’m stuck a little bit in between just trying to go out there and shoot scores and then concentrating a little on some technical stuff as well.” – Rory McIlroy, who opened in 3-over 73
SHORT SHOTS: Justin Thomas, the recent PGA Championship winner, opens in 2-under 68 in his first event after his first major title. He’s there at T-12 along with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. … Jordan Spieth and Jason Day both shoot 1-under 69 and are tied for 20th at 1 under. … Defending champion Patrick Reed is tied for 39th at even par. … Phil Mickelson, in need of a strong push to be confident in a Presidents Cup captain’s pick, stumbles to a 2-over 72 and sits T-80. But he’s remaining positive. … McIlroy, the defending FedEx Cup champion, is T-95 after his opening 73. … Only the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings after this week move on to the second playoff event (the Dell Technologies Championship). Among those outside the top 100 projected to jump in if their first-round position was their finish for the tournament: Harold Varner III (projected jump from 123rd to 64th as he sits T-6), Watson (113th to 62nd projection and also T-6), Martin Flores (118th to 63rd projection in T-6 position; he also made it here in the first place because of a miraculously-timed hole-in-one), Brian Gay (106th to 94th for T-20 spot) and Ryan Blaum (105th to 77th as he sits T-12). … Those inside the top 100 projected to fall out at the moment are Seung-Yul Noh (100th to 111th after as he’s tied for 102nd), Robert Garrigus (99th to 110th as he sits T-80), Byeong Hun An (96th to 105th thanks to T-110 position), Jason Kokrak (94th to 103rd after opening T-55) and Branden Grace (90th to 101st as he’s T-110). Obviously plenty of play to go this week. Just something to keep an eye on.