Power threesome doesn't disappoint in opening round

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comBrooks Koepka hits on the 14th fairway at the BMW Championship round one at Medinah Country Club in Medinah Thursday, August 15, 2019.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comBrooks Koepka hits on the 14th fairway at the BMW Championship round one at Medinah Country Club in Medinah Thursday, August 15, 2019.

 
 
Updated 8/15/2019 7:58 PM

A branch longer than a belly putter and nearly as thick as a Brooks Koepka biceps landed with a thud not far from Patrick Reed's errant tee shot on Medinah No. 3's 16th hole.

It proved somewhat ominous for the FedExCup's second-ranked player.

 

Reed's threaded approach clipped a tree, leading to just his second bogey of the day. His final two holes required finesse shots from off the green to save par.

And yet Reed, who moved to 5-under with an eagle on the par-5 14th, still finished Thursday's opening round of the BMW Championship with a 4-under 68. That leaves him and seven others 3 shots behind co-leaders Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak and tied for 17th.

"I would have loved to have given myself more birdie chances on (Nos.) 16, 17 and 18," Reed said. "But the good thing is, even when I get off line or out of position, I'm able to scramble and get it back in play. That's the difference between winning golf tournaments and losing golf tournaments."

The 2018 Masters champion was teeing it up for the first time since winning a golf tournament, the Northern Trust. It was his first title since conquering Augusta National 16 months earlier.

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"I'm just taking it exactly how I was a month ago," Reed said. "I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing, continue trying to make solid golf swings and have a good game plan going into the tournament and stick to the game plan. At the end of the week, add (the shots) up and see where we stand."

The top-three players in the FedExCup rankings -- Koepka, Reed and Rory McIlroy, respectively -- formed a power threesome on a picturesque day for golf. Together, they have nine majors. Thursday, they shot a collective 11 under. A hot back nine got Koepka to 4 under as well, while McIlroy finished at 3 under.

Koepka was plus-1 through 11 holes before playing the next five in 5 under. Like Reed, the four-time major champion reached the 609-yard 14th in two and sank an eagle putt.

He nearly drained a 40-foot putt on No. 18 for birdie.

"I just found something in my golf swing, just tried to shorten it up a little bit and make one key swing-thought change," Koepka said. "Felt a little bit more comfortable. I haven't felt comfortable over the ball in a while, so it was nice to feel confident when you're setting up over it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Koepka knows golf.

As he did in Wednesday's pro-am, he wore black, silver and white golf shoes reading "BROOKS KNOWS" across the front. He was honoring his pro-am playing partner, Bo Jackson.

"He's an icon," said a smiling Koepka, who now knows Bo. "It was cool to get to meet him and kind of build a relationship with him."

Reed will take his Day 1 effort, especially considering his final three holes could have been worse.

"It was OK," Reed, who rimmed out a birdie putt on No. 11, said with a shrug. "I definitely feel like I left some out there, but to go out and shoot 4-under par and to be still in the golf tournament, that's all you can ask for."

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