The FedEx Cup playoffs have officially begun with the start of The Barclays at Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City. After a long day of action in the first round, Kevin Stadler leads the field with a score of seven strokes under par.
Not every competitor was able to finish the opening round thanks to two separate rain delays that took place during the day. In fact, some players—like Ben Crane and Scott Langley—barely got started before play was suspended for darkness just before 8 p.m. ET:
While this will lead to another long day on Friday, there was plenty of excitement from those who were able to finish their round.
Here is a look at the leaderboard and highlights from the first day of play at The Barclays:
Kevin Stadler Puts Together Flawless Day
It would have been tough to predict Kevin Stadler to put together a great round this week. He missed the cut in each of his last three stroke-play tournaments, and has not shown any signs of turning it around.
However, he came out strong Thursday and kept it up throughout the day. Stadler had five birdies in his first eight holes and totaled seven on the day. He was in the fairways all day, and he helped himself with these types of approach shots:
Pair this skill with the fact that he did not have a single bogey on the day, and he found the perfect recipe to shoot a 64.
Stadler is a longshot to win this tournament after coming in No. 87 in the FedEx standings, but he has as good of a chance as anyone after the round he just put together.
Trio Remains High on Leaderboard
While Stadler took the early lead, he is not too far ahead of the field. Ryan Palmer, Camilo Villegas and Henrik Stenson each shot a 65 and remain one stroke back with three rounds remaining.
Villegas held the lead for part of the day after getting his score down to eight strokes under par. Unfortunately, back-to-back bogeys on holes Nos. 14 and 15 set him back. Still, these types of shots will keep him in contention:
However, the one to watch out for is Stenson, who has quietly been one of the top players on tour this year. He had nine birdies on the day, and as PGA Tour's Twitter account notes, he has been red-hot lately:
Palmer has a chance to stay in the top 10 after his round, although the fellow competitors on the leaderboard might be too experienced for him.
As the No. 1 player in the FedEx standings, this tournament does not mean too much. The top 100 players advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship next week, and it is unlikely Tiger Woods falls out of the top five.
That has not stopped the superstar from getting out to a good start in the tournament by shooting an opening round of 67.
As Justin Ray of ESPN notes, Woods made a big improvement with his accuracy off the tee:
Once he started hitting fairways, he was much more confident on the greens, making four birdies like this one:
Inconsistency has been a problem for Woods this year, but he can make this tournament his sixth win of the year if he plays like he did on Thursday.
Other Contenders to Follow
Jason Day and Matt Kuchar are two top golfers who have succeeded in past big tournaments and should be expected to stay in contention throughout the week. They are both two strokes behind and remain top contenders to win the entire FedEx Cup.
Kuchar did have one of the better tee shots of the day on this 219-yard par-three on hole No. 2:
A couple of players that could get back near the top of the leaderboard are Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel. Each former major champion finished three strokes under par and should be able to build off the showing heading into the weekend.
Superstars Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy did not have that good of a day, but they both remain within range of a comeback if they play better in the next three rounds.
Finally, watch out for Harris English, who only played six holes but already had four birdies in his first round. A quick start Friday could put him into first place.
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