CARMEL, Ind. — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy seem to be spending a lot of time together lately. That includes the top of a busy leaderboard at the BMW Championship.
The biggest star in golf and his heir apparent, playing together, put on a dazzling show Thursday in the first round at Crooked Stick. McIlroy, flawless with his irons, birdied his last two holes for 8-under 64 and was part of a four-way tie for the lead with Bo Van Pelt, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Graham DeLaet.
Three days after McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship, he looked just as impressive in the opening round of the latest PGA Tour FedEx Cup playoff event.
"He hits it great, putts it great, and on top of that, he's just a really nice kid," Woods said in some of his strongest praise ever for another player.
Woods, who finished two shots behind McIlroy on Monday, was sharp only when it came to scoring Thursday, making enough birdies to stay in the game, including a 30-foot chip-in on his last hole for 65. He was tied for second with Vijay Singh.
Fans lined three-deep down the entire 10th hole to see McIlroy and Woods in the same group for the second time in three weeks.
"I've always enjoyed playing with Tiger, and every time that we're paired up, we seem to have a good time," McIlroy said.
"It definitely gives you a little more of a lift, especially coming off a win and maybe being a little flat. You're focused from the get-go, and you want to go out and shoot a good number, and I was able to do that (Thursday)."
Rounding out their threesome was Nick Watney, who rallied for 70.
"Those guys … they're really good," he said of his playing partners. "Rory swings so aggressively, but he never looks uncomfortable. I wish I could have kept up."
Singh had a chance to join the leaders until he drove into the water on the 18th hole, though he escaped with par. Phil Mickelson was at 69, worth noting because it looked as though he might quadruple bogey on his last hole. He made birdie.
The top 30 in FedEx Cup points after this event move on to the playoff's final event, the Tour Championship on Sept. 20-23 at East Lake in Atlanta.
LPGA: Jiyai Shin weathered a two-hour weather delay and shot 9-under 62 to take the first-round lead at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. With 33 players on the course when play was halted because of darkness, Shin was two shots ahead of the field. Among those who finished were Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (1-under 70), Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (71) and Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (73). Clearwater's Jennifer Gleason was 4 over at No. 14 when play was halted.