When the BMW Championship began on Thursday morning at Conway Farms Golf Club, it should have come as no surprise that the field of 70 players would be playing their most aggressive game. After all, with no cut, Thursday presented a great opportunity to set the tone for the week. Shoot low, and you can make the rest of the field play catch-up. Shoot high – as a surprising number of players did – and you still have three days to claw back.
Perhaps nothing, however, was more surprising than the fiery start of Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker, who came into the Championship ranked ninth in the FedEx Cup, won twice on the PGA Tour this year, but has been suffering through a dramatic slump in the last five weeks. Following his win at the RBC Canadian Open, Snedeker has failed to finish higher than 33rd in any tournament, and missed two cuts along the way.
Snedeker put together a string of seven consecutive birdies on his way to an opening 63, eight under par and one shot ahead of Zach Johnson. That particular birdie streak was only two shy of the Tour record of nine, set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2009.
If there was ever a way to get some confidence back in your game, this had to be it. Snedeker even said he hadn’t felt particularly solid in practice leading up to the tournament. “I’ve got no clue,” Snedeker told USA TODAY. “It’s funny, I warmed up, I didn’t feel great with the putter, and was just trying to work on one little minor thing in my stroke to make sure I could hit the ball solid every time. On 13, the first one went in, and it felt like the floodgates coming open.”
If Snedeker can find a way to capture that momentum for the rest of the week, the sky’s the limit for him. It’s been a roller coaster year for the defending FedEx Cup champion, but the playoffs are all about peaking at just the right time. Could this be the start of something big?