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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 14 November, 2018

Rory McIlroy already 10 shots adrift after slow start at BMW Championship

McIlroy set to miss FedEx Cup finale and shot at another $10m payday.

McIlroy: five birdies, but still finished on one-over.
McIlroy: five birdies, but still finished on one-over.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

RORY MCILROY’S HOPES of a late FedEx Cup rally got off to the worst possible start at the BMW Championship on Thursday.

A wayward approach on the first hole saw McIlroy open with a double-bogey six which set the tone for a frustrating afternoon at Conway Farms.

And although the defending FedEx Cup champion shot five birdies over the course of the day, four more bogeys left him on one-over par, 10 shots off the pace set by Marc Leishman.

McIlroy, who bagged the $10m playoff bonus last season, sits in a tie for 56th — needing a top-four finish or better to qualify for the final event, next week’s Tour Championship.

Leishman blasted out of the gate, firing a nine-under par 62 to take a two-shot lead over Jason Day, Charley Hoffman and Jamie Lovemark.

The Australian came into the tournament in seventh place in the FedEx Cup standings but stole the spotlight from Jordan Spieth, who leads the playoff race.

“I hit the ball really well, which is obviously what you have to do to shoot that score,” Leishman said. “But probably more importantly I putted well, I made the opportunities that I gave myself.

“When you play golf and all you’re thinking about his making birdies, it’s a lot easier than trying to not make bogeys,” added Leishman, who picked up four more birdies coming in for a comfortable clubhouse lead.

Rickie Fowler powered to a 65, stringing together six straight birdies from the 12th through the 17th to join The Open champion Spieth on six-under.

Spieth, runner-up in each of the previous two FedEx Cup events, had six birdies without a bogey to join a group that also included Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and Americans Keegan Bradley and Tony Finau.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson headed a group on five-under 66 after a bogey-free round.

See the full leaderboard here >

– Additional reporting © AFP, 2017

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