Justin Thomas set the early pace at the U.S. Open, where a record-breaking five-under-par 65 gave the former world number one a one-shot lead following the opening round.

Three straight birdies from the ninth and another at the last helped take Thomas to the top of the leaderboard with the lowest score recorded in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, surpassing the previous low of 66.

Thomas – the 2017 US PGA Championship winner – ended the first day ahead of Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff in New York on Thursday.

A course usually renowned for its thick rough and brutal greens, Winged Foot's West Course was surprisingly forgiving for the start of the rescheduled 120th U.S. Open amid the coronavirus pandemic, hence some of the low scores and the fact Thomas reached 14 of the 18 greens in regulation.

Former Masters champion Reed will hope to remain in contention heading into the weekend after ending day one just a shot back – the American's 66 helped by a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh, the ball taking just one bounce before sinking.

Reed was not the only player to ace the seventh, however. Will Zalatoris repeated the feat later, with Wolff also coming agonisingly close in a remarkable series of events.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on that ace, Wolff impressed and dragged himself into the frame with a run of three successive birdies after beginning the back nine with a bogey.

Pieters is right there on Thomas' tail as well thanks to his round of 66 – a best ever opening score in a major for the Belgian, who closed out the day with a birdie that moved him above Rory McIlroy on three under.

Four-time major champion and 2011 U.S. Open winner McIlroy, who has not added to his haul of majors since 2014, had four birdies and a solitary bogey in a promising start, while Jon Rahm opened with a 69.

But it was a day to forget for some of the big hitters, who will now require strong second rounds.

Defending champion Gary Woodland is at four over, a shot worse off than world number one and FedEx Cup winner Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, with the latter – a three-time U.S. Open champion – finishing with a bogey and double bogey on the last two holes.

After a front-nine one-under-par 34, American golfer Woodland played the back nine in five over for an opening-round 74.

It was a miserable start for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who will enter the second round nine over – while US PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa was three shots better off.

Tiger Woods was left to rue the conclusion to a rocky opening round at the U.S. Open as a bogey-double bogey finish saw him card a three-over 73.

The 15-time major champion found life tough at the tricky Winged Foot course but looked to have rescued a respectable score.

A run of three birdies from the ninth had Woods under par for the first time, before he again responded after consecutive bogeys on the back nine.

But there was to be another unfortunate twist for the 44-year-old, who missed a six-foot putt to save par at the 17th following a poor tee shot and then made a mess of the final hole, unable to even rescue a bogey from five feet.

Woods was already eight strokes behind clubhouse leader Justin Thomas (five under), who had Patrick Reed (four under) and Rory McIlroy (three under) for company on Thursday.

"It was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today," Woods said. "I did not finish off the round like I needed to.

"I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round.

"It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible.

"Unfortunately, I just did not finish off my round the way I needed to."

Tiger Woods can identify with the struggles of Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal as they each bid to make history in their sport, with time working against them.

This week, 40-year-old Woods will yet again seek to add to his major haul of 15 in pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record tally of 18.

It was a mark that Woods appeared destined to surpass when he reached 14 in 2008, but his 2019 Masters triumph ended an 11-year drought brought on by injury and personal issues.

Fellow American Williams has similarly hit a barrier in her quest to catch Margaret Court's grand slam total of 24, with the 38-year-old having been one behind since 2017.

Nadal, the youngest of the trio at 34 and also one shy of the all-time mark, faces a slightly different challenge in that his target could be a moving one, with Roger Federer still looking to increase his number of slams victories above 20.

Asked if the proximity to such historic milestones made it harder to win, Woods suggested age was the greatest factor.

"You know, I think it gets harder to win as we all age," he said at Winged Foot ahead of the second of three majors this year. 

"I think that when you're in your prime, in your peak years, you have to take advantage of those opportunities so that when you get to the all-time marks, you have the opportunity.

"I think that whether it's Rafa or Fed or Serena, they've been so consistent and so dominant for such a long period of time, that's how you get to have those all-time marks.

"Consistency over a long period of time is the hallmark of those records."

The U.S. Open has not been at Winged Foot since 2006, when surprise winner Geoff Ogilvy took the honours after finishing five over par.

That sums up the difficulty of the challenge facing the field this week, with Woods citing this track as one of the toughest in the world.

"I think it's right up there next to Oakmont and I think Carnoustie as far as just sheer difficulty without even doing anything to it," he said.

"I think those three golf courses, they can host major championships without ever doing anything to them.

"The winning scores here have never traditionally been very low. I don't see that changing this week.

"The golf course is going to be hard. It depends on how difficult they want to set up these pins, give us a chance at it.

"But with the forecast, it's going to be difficult no matter what."

World number one Dustin Johnson will tee off at the 2020 U.S. Open on Thursday in a star-studded group with Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.

Johnson, whose solitary major triumph came at this event in 2016, has returned to the rankings summit following a stunning run of form on the PGA Tour.

The 36-year-old has claimed three tournament wins, including the TOUR Championship, to land him a maiden FedExCup and the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award.

Johnson is the favourite to lift the trophy at Winged Foot this week and will be alongside American compatriots DeChambeau and Finau, who are each seeking their first major title.

That headline group goes out at 1:16PM (local time).

Two-time winner Brooks Koepka is absent as he seeks full fitness, while reigning champion Gary Woodland will compete alongside 2019 Open winner Shane Lowry and amateur Andy Ogletree.

Tiger Woods, who has his name on the silverware three times, will feature in a trio with US PGA victor Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.

Rory McIlroy's pursuit of a fifth major will see him tee off in a group featuring Adam Scott and Justin Rose. 

Spain's Jon Rahm, also considered a leading contender for glory, is in a threesome with Phil Mickelson, who needs this major to complete the set, and Paul Casey.

 

 

Jon Rahm holed an incredible 66-foot birdie putt to upstage FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson in a thrilling play-off at the BMW Championship.

The world's two best golfers put on a masterclass at the Olympia Fields Country Club, where Rahm prevailed to win the second FedEx Cup play-off event on Sunday.

Eyeing back-to-back titles and seeking a record sixth FedEx Cup play-offs trophy, Northern Trust champion Johnson forced a sudden-death showdown against Rahm thanks to a clutch birdie putt at the 18th hole.

Johnson – the co-leader overnight alongside Hideki Matsuyama – trailed Rahm by a single stroke heading to the final green and the American star was left with a 43-foot birdie putt to send the tournament into a play-off.

With the flag stick still in the hole and a difficult break down the hill, Johnson struck the ball perfectly as he closed out the final round with a 67 to join Rahm (64) at four under through 72.

However, world number two Rahm responded in the play-off as the pair went back out to play the 18th again – the Spaniard draining a tremendously tough putt to emerge victorious in wild fashion after Johnson's effort ended up just short.

Rahm will head to the lucrative Tour Championship second behind Johnson in the FedEx Cup standings following his second win of the season.

Joaquin Niemann (67) and Matsuyama (69) finished tied for third, two strokes behind Rahm and Johnson, while Tony Finau (65) was a shot further back.

Mackenzie Hughes (71) qualified for the Tour Championship thanks to a tense par on the 72nd hole as the Canadian ended the tournament tied for 10th.

Former world number one and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy – who is set to become a father for the first time – endured another difficult day as he carded a one-over-par 71 to be tied for 12th and seven strokes off the pace.

Reigning FedEx Cup champion McIlroy is 12th in the standings as attention turns to the upcoming Tour Championship.

Meanwhile, Justin Thomas and his BMW Championship title defence ended with a 68 and a share of 25th position.

As for Tiger Woods, the 15-time major winner failed to qualify for the Tour Championship after his PGA Tour season came to an end on Sunday.

Woods did not come close to securing the top-five finish he needed to take his place in the field at East Lake next week, finishing with a one-over 71 on Sunday.

With the top 30 golfers qualifying for the Tour Championship, Woods could only manage 63rd.

Tiger Woods failed to qualify for the Tour Championship but said the BMW Championship gave him a "great ramp-up" for the U.S. Open after his PGA Tour season came to an end.

Woods did not come close to securing the top-five finish he needed to take his place in the field at East Lake next week, finishing with a one-over 71 on Sunday.

The 15-time major champion will have a fortnight to prepare for the second major of the year at Winged Foot after his hopes of being crowned FedEx Cup champion for a third time were ended.

Woods, who finished 11 over on Sunday, feels a testing week in such tough scoring conditions at Olympia Fields will stand him in good stead to start the 2020-21 season strongly at the U.S. Open.

He said: "I didn't play as well as I wanted to the first couple days. Today was nice. I hit the ball really well and made only a couple putts, but today was more indicative of how I want to play in a couple weeks.

"This golf course was basically a U.S. Open, with the rough being as high as it is and fairways a little bit narrow.

"Look at the scores, and I don't think that we've seen scores like this in a non-major in a very long time. This was a great ramp-up for me for the U.S. Open.

"I wish I was playing next week, but I've got a couple weeks off."

Woods made two birdies in the first four holes, but could only add another one on the back nine mixed in with a couple of drop shots and finished with a double-bogey.

Joaquin Niemann held a one-shot lead over Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson on three under through 12.

FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama are tied for the BMW Championship lead following Saturday's third round.

American star Johnson and Japan's Matsuyama both carded 69s to top the leaderboard at one under through 54 holes in Illinois, where the pair hold a two-stroke advantage.

Johnson cruised to victory at last week's opening FedEx Cup play-off event – The Northern Trust – and he has maintained his form at the Olympia Fields Country Club.

Projected to retain his position atop the FedEx Cup standings ahead of Matsuyama, two-time BMW Championship winner Johnson had three birdies and two bogeys to rise two positions on day three.

Matsuyama – a five-time PGA Tour champion but without a title since 2017 – enjoyed a mixed day, with an eagle, two birdies and three bogeys in tough scoring conditions.

Joaquin Niemann (68), Mackenzie Hughes (69) and Adam Scott (70) are tied for third at one over heading into Sunday's final round.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy is among six players a shot further back following his three-over-par 73.

McIlroy was co-leader heading into the penultimate round but the former world number one struggled – five bogeys and just two birdies seeing the 2012 winner slide down the leaderboard.

Jon Rahm (66), Sebastian Munoz (67), Kevin Kisner (70), Bubba Watson (70) and Brendon Todd (71) are also two over.

Defending champion Justin Thomas (71), meanwhile, is eight over following his third consecutive round in the 70s.

Tiger Woods' struggles continued as the 15-time major champion looks set to miss out on the Tour Championship ahead of the U.S. Open.

With the top 30 qualifying for the Tour Championship, where Woods is a three-time champion, the 44-year-old is projected to be 65th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Rory McIlroy carded a one-under 69 to be in a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the BMW Championship.

Looking for his first win of 2020, the Northern Irishman sits at one under in difficult conditions at the Olympia Fields Country Club.

McIlroy got to three under in his second round at the FedEx Cup play-offs event, but dropped two shots on his final five holes.

The 2012 champion shares a one-stroke lead with American Patrick Cantlay (68).

Overnight leader Hideki Matsuyama (73) and world number one Dustin Johnson (69) are tied for third.

A two-time winner of the tournament, Johnson made back-to-back birdies to finish his round.

Adam Scott (69), Brendon Todd (68), Louis Oosthuizen (69), Tony Finau (71) and Billy Horschel (71) are tied for fifth at one over.

A shot further back are Mackenzie Hughes (73), Kevin Kisner (70) and Bubba Watson (70).

Defending champion Justin Thomas fell further back, carding a four-over 74 to be at seven over.

While there is no 36-hole cut at the BMW Championship, Tiger Woods and Jason Day are in danger of missing the Tour Championship.

Woods struggled to a 75 to be at eight over, two shots better off than Day (74).

With the top 30 qualifying for the Tour Championship, Woods is projected to be 63rd in the FedEx Cup standings, while Day is 58th.

Hideki Matsuyama made two late birdies to grab a one-stroke lead after the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday.

The Japanese star mixed six birdies with three bogeys in tough conditions at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois to shoot a three-under 67.

Matsuyama was one of just three players to finish the opening round under par at the second FedEx Cup play-off event of the year.

The 28-year-old, whose last win came in 2017, was one over through nine holes before making four birdies on his back nine – the front nine of the course – including picking up shots at holes seven and nine.

American Tyler Duncan is outright second after his 68, while Mackenzie Hughes opened with a 69.

With conditions difficult for scoring, 10 players are tied for fourth at even par, with four-time major champion Rory McIlroy among them.

Former world number one McIlroy, the 2012 winner, had four birdies and four bogeys to be in contention for his first victory of 2020.

Harry Higgs, Tony Finau, Billy Horschel, Lanto Griffin, Sebastian Munoz, Matt Fitzpatrick, Carlos Ortiz, Mark Hubbard and Abraham Ancer are also at even par.

Coming off his incredible 11-shot win at the Northern Trust, Dustin Johnson opened with a one-over 71 to be among a group tied for 14th.

Defending champion Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods fired opening-round 73s and endured similar struggles late.

After starting on the back nine, Thomas and Woods were both even with three holes to play, but finished with three consecutive bogeys.

US PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa and Jason Day both carded 76s, while 2017 winner Marc Leishman is last after shooting an 80.

Tiger Woods insists this year's Masters will still be "fun" despite there being no fans at Augusta to witness his title defence.

Woods ended his 11-year major drought by taking the green jacket last year to cap a remarkable comeback from injury and personal issues.

The 2020 edition will take place behind closed doors in November having been postponed from April amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And while the 15-time major winner conceded it would be a "very different" experience, he still expects to enjoy it. 

"It's going to make a big difference to all of us," he said ahead of the BMW Championship.

"It has out here week in and week out [on the PGA Tour]. We just don't have the same type of energy, and as I said, the distractions, too.

"There at Augusta National you just have all those roars that would go up if somebody did something somewhere... we're not going to have any of that now.

"So [we'll be] scoreboard-watching and trying to figure out what's going on. There aren't a lot of big leaderboards out there so that will be very different.

"It's going to be very different without 40,000 people there. When I first went there and had a chance to play in '95 and seeing it with no fans, it was eye-opening how much room there is.

"When you put 40,000 people on such a small piece of property, I know there's no rough, but it gets confined.

"This will be very different, but this will be a fun Masters and I'm looking forward to defending."

Woods shot a final-round 66 at the Northern Trust Open but finished in a tie for 58th.

He needs a strong display to advance in the FedExCup Playoffs and knows exactly what is required of him at Olympia Fields Country Club this week.

"I have to play well. I have to earn my way to East Lake," he said.

"I haven't done so yet and need a big week this week in order to advance. If I don't, then I go home. This is a big week for me.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing and competing. This golf course is set up more like a U.S. Open than it is a regular Tour event, but this is the Playoffs. It's supposed to be hard."

Dustin Johnson closed out a stunning 11-stroke victory at the Northern Trust on Sunday.

Johnston carded an eight-under 63 in the final round at TPC Boston on his way to a 22nd PGA Tour success.

The American won the tournament for a third time, with only Vijay Singh (four) having claimed the title on more occasions, and returned to world number one.

Coming off a runner-up finish at the US PGA Championship, Johnson was in incredible form at the opening event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

He posted scores of 67, 60, 64 and 63, with his final round featuring six birdies and an eagle as he hit all 18 greens in regulation for just the second time in his career.

Johnson held a five-stroke lead heading into Sunday and his victory was never in doubt despite a late delay due to inclement weather.

His 30-under 254 is the second-lowest 72-hole score in PGA Tour history.

Harris English (69) finished a distant second at 19 under, a shot ahead of Daniel Berger (67).

Jon Rahm carded a 65 and ended up tied for sixth alongside Webb Simpson (66), a stroke adrift of Kevin Kisner (66) and Scottie Scheffler (71).

Scheffler stole the show on Friday with a 59, but he could only post scores of 67 and 71 on the weekend.

Already out of contention, Tiger Woods at least managed a positive finish with a 66 to finish at six under – enough for a tie for 58th.

Rory McIlroy struggled to get going throughout the tournament as the Northern Irishman finished at two under after a 69.

Tiger Woods has conceded it is difficult to play with the same intensity without fans in attendance.

Woods, along with fellow star Rory McIlroy, endured a difficult third round at the Northern Trust on Saturday, but shot an impressive five-under 66 on Sunday to finish on six under.

It marks Woods' lowest round since he won the Zozo Championship in 2019.

Despite an impressive finish, Woods said it was hard to play with the same motivation as he would do in front of a crowd, with no galleries allowed at events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"You hit good shots and you get on nice little runs, but we don't have the same energy, the same fan energy," Woods told reporters.

"It is different. Normally, you may have it like this at a Thursday or Friday morning round when there's no one out here, but by the time you get around the turn, people start coming around.

"But it's been like that from the word go, and it is very different."

Woods, however, was able to reflect on a much-improved final round.

"I felt like I hit the ball better," he added. "I putted better. Everything was just cleaner and better today. It was good.

"I just wish I could have kept the round going a little bit more. I had a couple of nice little eagle looks on the front nine. It could have been one of those really low rounds, but I’ll take five under.

"My body feels pretty good. You know, this is going to be a long haul either way. I wish I would have played a little bit better this week to make it a little bit easier on me next week to try to get into East Lake, but this is going to be – if I play well, four out of five weeks, so it's going to be a busy stretch either way."

Dustin Johnson took control of the Northern Trust with a seven-under-par 64, while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy endured a difficult third round.

Johnson was almost flawless as the former world number one extended his lead to five strokes at TPC Boston on Saturday.

A two-time winner of the FedEx Cup play-off tournament, American star Johnson carried a two-shot advantage into the penultimate round.

Johnson – 15th in the FedEx Cup standings prior to the opening play-off event – surged clear thanks to an eagle, six birdies and just one bogey in Norton, Massachusetts.

Eyeing a 22nd PGA Tour title, Johnson holed a 40-foot eagle at the last to improve to 22 under through 54 holes, ahead of countrymen Harris English (66) and Scott Scheffler (67).

Louis Oosthuizen (68) is 15 under, while Harry Higgs (66), Daniel Berger (67) and Danny Lee (69) are a stroke further back following day three.

Defending champion Patrick Reed shot a third-round 68 to be 16 strokes off the pace and tied for 51st, a shot behind 2017 FedEx Cup winner Justin Thomas (71).

It was a tough day for Woods and McIlroy as the star pair continued to struggle at the Northern Trust.

After opening with a 68, 15-time major champion Woods has now posted consecutive rounds in the 70s following Saturday's two-over-par 73.

Five bogeys and just three birdies left Woods one under and out of contention, along with reigning FedEx Cup champion McIlroy.

Former world number one McIlroy is a shot worse off following his three-over-par 74, which consisted of two triple bogeys after seeing his chip shot roll backwards into the water on the second hole.

Dustin Johnson surged into the lead at the Northern Trust, but Scottie Scheffler stole the show with a 59 in the second round.

Johnson moved into a two-stroke lead at TPC Boston thanks to a stunning 11-under 60 – a career-low – on Friday.

The 2016 U.S. Open champion, and two-time Northern Trust winner, was in fine form and made a spectacular start to his round.

Johnson was nine under through eight holes before picking up shots at 10 and 11, but he parred his last seven to miss out on a 59.

The American is still two shots clear of Scheffler and Cameron Davis, the latter continuing his consistent start with a 65.

Scheffler, 24, became the 11th different player to break 60 at a PGA Tour event and second-youngest, behind only Justin Thomas.

The American made six birdies on the front nine and six on the back, making a four-footer at the last for his 59.

Danny Lee (64), Harris English (66) and Louis Oosthuizen (65) are a shot further back in a tie for fourth.

American pair Kevin Kisner (66) and Russell Henley (67) are at 11 under, a shot ahead of Kim Si-woo (64), Matthew Wolff (67) and Daniel Berger (66).

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were unable to get going as they only narrowly made the cut.

Woods (71) and McIlroy (70) are at three under, making the weekend by a stroke alongside defending champion Patrick Reed (71) and Justin Rose (70).

One player not heading into the weekend is Jordan Spieth, who missed his third cut of 2020 after rounds of 69 and 71.

Thomas (67), meanwhile, is at seven under, a shot ahead of Jon Rahm (67).

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