Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
Kuchar takes early lead at BMW Championship



Lemont, IL (Sports Network) - Matt Kuchar lost his voice, but not his game.

Feeling under the weather and barely able to answer a post-round question, Kuchar fired a seven-under 64 Thursday to take the first-round lead at the BMW Championship.

The FedEx Cup leader collected an eagle, six birdies and a bogey to build a one-shot lead over Ryan Moore at the same venue where he won the 1997 U.S. Amateur.

Kuchar made his first birdie from 64 feet at the par-three 12th, his third hole. The putt was traveling fast when it hit the back of the cup, popped up and dropped in.

"I've got good memories of this place, so it continued to go well for me today," Kuchar said during the brief comments he made after his round at Cog Hill.

Moore birdied seven of his last eight holes for a 65, while Ian Poulter overcame a double-bogey to post an up-and-down 66 that left him alone in third place.

Retief Goosen and Charlie Wi were another shot further back at 67, while Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson and Brian Gay each shot 68.

Defending champion Tiger Woods labored to recover from an opening double-bogey and shot a two-over 73 in his first round since being named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Wood knocked his drive into the rough, his approach shot into a greenside bunker and missed a four-foot bogey putt at No. 1 to begin yet another round on the wrong foot.

He ended it on the wrong foot, too, hitting into another greenside bunker for a bogey at the 18th.

But Woods also showed flashes Thursday of the player who has won this tournament five times -- including last year's by eight shots.

He muscled a shot out of the rough at the 10th, lifted it over the trees and got it to roll to about nine feet for a birdie. He birdied the 11th as well despite hitting into a fairway bunker off the tee, getting to one-over par.

Woods bogeyed the 12th from a greenside bunker, then drained an 11-foot birdie putt at the 14th. But his approach at the 18th was too long, giving him a lie in the bunker that forced him to stand with his right foot out on the grass.

He blasted out 20 feet past the hole, then came up about a yard short on his par putt -- a common theme for the round.

"I had a hard time hitting putts hard enough," Woods said.

He will need to shake off the poor start and earn a top-five finish in order to make the field at the Tour Championship in two weeks, where he would have an outside chance to defend his FedEx Cup title at the playoff finale in Atlanta.

The tournament is reserved for only the top 30 players in the standings and Woods entered this week 51st.

"As of right now I'm only five shots back out of that spot. That's not bad," he said. "Guys aren't going low at this place because the greens aren't good enough to go low. Obviously there's a couple players that have played well today, but overall the guys just aren't tearing the place apart."

Also producing a poor start was Phil Mickelson. With another chance to overtake Woods for the No. 1 ranking, Lefty opened with a 72 after making four bogeys and three birdies.

"It was kind of an up-and-down day. Got off to a good start, finished at one- over. Thought I played OK," said Mickelson.

Moore is 58th in the standings and also looking to play his way into the finale. He made the turn at one-over par, but closed with a 29 to set the back-nine scoring record on Cog Hill's Dubsdread course.

His birdie run -- seven of eight, including five in a row to end the round -- began when he holed out from a greenside bunker at No. 11, kickstarting his record-setting finish.

"I certainly wasn't expecting to do that," Moore said of his 29.

Kuchar's season-long surge finally paid off two weeks ago during the first round of the playoffs when he beat Martin Laird in a playoff to win The Barclays.

He tied for 11th place Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship and considered his performance "suspect" even as he held on to the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings.

Thursday's start was anything but suspect on the course, as Kuchar caught fire for the 18-hole lead despite feeling ill.

After making his 64-footer at the 12th, Kuchar scored an eagle at the par-five 15th, where he knocked his 242-yard second shot to about 10 feet. He made two more birdies for a five-under 31 on the back nine.

Kuchar added birdies at No. 4 and No. 7, then made his only bogey of the round after driving into a fairway bunker at No. 8. He got the shot back with a 17- foot birdie putt at his last hole.

"I was driving it well. I was actually doing everything well. It felt very good," said Kuchar. "Last week was a little bit suspect, and this week I kind of figured some stuff out. (I'm) hitting the ball solid and making some putts."

NOTES: Deutsche Bank winner Charley Hoffman opened with a 70...There is no cut this week...The tour will take a one-week break before the Tour Championship.

09/09 23:00:12 ET