Rain-softened Ridgewood yields low scores Thursday

Aug 23, 2018; Paramus, NJ, USA; Overall view of the eight hole during the first round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at Ridgewood Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports Catalina Fragoso/USA TODAY Sports

Rain-softened Ridgewood yields low scores Thursday

PGA Tour

Rain-softened Ridgewood yields low scores Thursday

PARAMUS, N.J.  – Depending on the traffic on the Garden State Parkway, it takes about three hours to drive from Ridgewood Country Club, site of this week’s Northern Trust, to the casinos in Atlantic City. Sports betting has been legal there since July and oddsmakers tabbed Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day as the favorites to win the first FedEx Cup Playoff event.

It’s safe to assume that anyone who laid down some cash and wagered that Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark, Sean O’Hair or Vaughn Taylor to win this week would have been tabbed as a sucker, but after 18 holes of play on rain softened the A. W. Tillinghast layout, they are the leaders.

“I hit quite a few fairways. You can’t really play from the rough. It’s really, really long and wet,” said Tway, who hit 10 of 14 fairways, during his morning round. The former Oklahoma State star carded six birdies and made just one bogey. “The greens are soft and you can give yourself a lot of birdie opportunities.”

That, in a nutshell, was the goal for most players on Thursday because overnight rain soaked the rough, which was already tall and thick. Mud was sticking to golf balls during practice rounds and Wednesday’s pro-am, so after more rain fell, tournament officials invoked lift, clean and place conditions on the course. That allowed golfers to mark their ball in the fairways, clean it and then put it back down on the turf. That edge over hitting from the rough put even more emphasis on accuracy off the tee.

There were, however, some golfers who managed to put themselves into contention without hitting a lot of fairways, relying on their ability to recover and make putts instead.

Tommy Fleetwood hit seven of 14 fairways and still managed to shoot 67.

“I didn’t put very good swings on it, 9, 10, 11, even 12, my first few holes (but) holed some really nice putts over a stretch of holes,” he said. “Then I actually started hitting it very nicely but the putts kind of dried up.”

Johnson also shot 67 while hitting just six fairways and Phil Mickelson carded a 68 while hitting only three fairways.

Tiger Woods, who played with Fleetwood, finished the day at even par and as usual, played in front of the largest gallery of the day.

“I just didn’t have the situations where I had the full club and I could go ahead and take a rip at it and start being aggressive and going after these flags.,” he said. “I kept having to play a little defensive because I was taking more club, trying to shape it and take spin off. One of those days.”

The condensed leaderboard means that Friday’s second round is sure to be packed with drama. The top 125 players on the FedEx Cup point list qualified to play in this event, but after the conclusion of play on Sunday, only the top 100 advanced to next week’s Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston.

The chart below shows several notable players, as well as golfers who started this week on the FedEx Cup bubble, and their projected FedEx Cup point standings based on Thursday’s play.

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