FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Padraig Harrington found a way to take some of the attention away from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on Thursday. He made six birdies on the tough back nine of Bethpage Black and opened the FedEx Cup playoffs with a 7-under 64 for a one-shot lead at The Barclays.
And that surely got the attention of Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
Harrington has to rely on a captain's pick to make his seventh straight European team, and that looks to be unlikely. Not only has the three-time major champion gone four years without winning against a strong field, he and Olazabal are not the best of friends after a dispute at the Seve Trophy from nine years ago.
Harrington came to life on the back nine with four straight birdies to cap off his 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Nick Watney and Brian Harman among the early starters. The hotter it became, the crustier the greens were, and it was unlikely anyone would catch him. No one did.
Sergio Garcia was part of the group at 66, while defending champion Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, both trying to make their own impression as potential picks by U.S. captain Davis Love III, were in the group at 67.
There were 73 players from the 123-man field at par or better, not the kind of scoring associated with Bethpage Black.
Thousands of fans chased after Woods and McIlroy, in the marquee group based on their standing in the FedEx Cup - Woods at No. 1, McIlroy at No. 3. Both of them got off to a reasonable start. Woods scrambled nicely to recover from a few errant shots and scratched out a 68. McIlroy smashed one driver after another to set up short irons into the greens, and while he had three birdies through six holes, he let the good start get away from him and settled for a 69.
JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP
GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) - Nicolas Colsaerts shot a 3-under 69 in the Johnnie Walker Championship, leaving the Ryder Cup hopeful two shots behind the first-round leaders in the final event in the points races for the 10 automatic spots on the European team.
The big-hitting Belgian made five birdies - including four in five holes on Nos. 14-18 - to share eighth place. He must finish first or second be assured of an automatic position in the matches next month against the United States at Medinah in Illinois.
Australia's Brett Rumford and Norwegian playing partner Knut Borsheim shot 67 on Gleneagles Hotel's PGA Centenary Course, the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout that will be the site of the 2014 Ryder Cup. Five players, including Ryder Cup qualifiers Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Francesco Molinari of Italy were a stroke back.