Woods, Mickelson struggle as Matt Kuchar takes first-day lead at BMW Championship

Tiger Woods hammered a low, drawing 3-wood, twirled his club and then gave swing guru Sean Foley a fist bump.

His practice session was complete.


After walking to the first tee, Woods asked an official, "What's the batting order today?"

With playing partner K.J. Choi waiting in the on-deck circle, Woods put a flawed swing on that same 3-wood, and his drive settled in the right rough just 231 yards away. A so-so approach, followed by a heavy bunker shot and flubbed four-footer left Woods 2 over par before he could catch his breath at the BMW Championship.


Woods made just three birdies Thursday, killing his Cog Hill run of 11 consecutive rounds at 68 or better.

"I just didn't have much today," he said after shooting a 2-over 73.

Neither did the man officially ranked one spot lower than Woods, Phil Mickelson. His bizarre day included a flop shot from almost the middle of the 15th green and several thinly veiled rips on the golf course.

Who did excel Thursday? Matt Kuchar, the man atop the FedEx Cup points list, fired a 7-under 64 but couldn't say much about it because of a case of laryngitis. Ryan Moore birdied his final five holes to card a back-nine record 29 that puts him within one shot of Kuchar.

Several passed over for the European and U.S. Ryder Cup teams also were among the 26 players who broke par, namely Justin Rose (68), Paul Casey (69), Anthony Kim (70) and Nick Watney (70).

Mickelson will wear the Stars and Stripes on his sleeve next month in Wales, but his play Thursday was befitting an Ugly American.

Of course, it's hard to play on a course you disdain.

"The most challenging thing for me," Mickelson told a handful of reporters after hitting seven of 14 fairways and shooting a 1-over 72, "is mentally getting up for playing here."


Mickelson danced around a few questions, at first calling the Rees Jones-renovated "Dubsdread" Course "interesting" and replying to whether he considered not coming to Chicago this way: "I don't want to get into that. You've gotten me going already more than I probably should."

But Mickelson, after raving about the "pristine" greens at Butler National, where he practiced Wednesday, answered another question with three of his own: "Have you guys played here? What do you think of the course? Do you enjoy it?"

Mickelson is among those critical of Jones' use of "fingers," or ridges, that make it hard to access some pins. That's why, he said, he tried a flop shot from 37 feet on the 15th green. (He hit it to the back fringe and two-putted for par.)

Mickelson also criticized the design of the par-3s, noting he hit a 5-iron into all four.

"Are there opportunities to get close to pins?" he asked. "Do the slopes provide it? Are there chipping areas that are fun? Is there a variety of iron shots throughout the par-4s and par-3s? Are you being rewarded for good shots, and are you being penalized for bad ones fairly or adequately? Those are the questions I [ask] when I look at design."