The opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday showed that low scores could be posted as PGA players hustled to get in their round before the arrival of Hurricane Earl. Zach Johnson made a strong case for the Ryder Cup as he shot an 8-under 63 to own a share of the lead heading into Saturday’s second round.
Making it to the third round is not an issue for Johnson, but his Ryder Cup hopes are at stake as Corey Pavin will announce his four captain’s picks on Tuesday. He will try to stay focused on the tournament this weekend and if he is chosen, it will be an added bonus.
“It would be an honor, and I want to get on that team very, very bad,” Johnson said. “But you can justify the case for a number of guys. I’m not concerned about it. I’m going to let things fall where they fall. I feel like if I keep performing decent, then I’ll have a pretty good chance.”
Johnson used his great short game to give him such a good round. On his opening hole, he chipped in from behind the green and made a thirty-foot birdie on the 11th to get his day started. He also made a 35-foot birdie on the 17th and took advantage of the par fives with two birdies.
Johnson shares his lead with Jason Day who also shot a 8-under on Friday. Scores were low for a number of players Friday with 27 of them shooting a 66 or better. The advantage was obviously given to those who started their rounds early as only seven of the twenty-seven with a 66 or better came in the afternoon. It will be interesting to see if the course holds up with all the rain but Day, who held a 36-hole lead last weekend at The Barclays, is going to put the first round behind him and focus on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of deep scores out there,” Day said. “It was out there today. Hopefully, this thing can blow through and not hit us too hard. But I’ll probably try and put his round behind me and just focus on the next round.”
Eight players are tied for second at 7-under heading into Saturday’s second round. As for the No. 1 player in the world Tiger Woods, Friday did not go so well. Woods, at one point, was in last place before rallying back to shoot a 72. He is now three shots behind the projected cut and if he misses it, he will not advance to defend his title next week outside Chicago.
“I’m going to have to shoot something good tomorrow, hopefully move up a little bit,” Woods said. “Obviously, get off to a better start than I did today.”
Despite sharing the lead after the opening round, Day and Johnson are not the favorites to win according to PGA Sportsbooks. Rory McIlroy, who is at 7-under, is the favorite and has his odds set at 7/1. Steve Stricker, who is at 6-under, has his odds set at 8/1. Day will enter Saturday with 9/1 odds and Johnson is set at 12/1.