MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A fantastic day on the course Thursday for the top tournament ever to play in Memphis. The World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational opens its inaugural round in the Bluff City with just about all the heavy hitters on the planet.
The Tournament Players Club at Southwind is the scene where Brooks Koepka, the number one golfer in the world, is humbled by the course at the outset.
The FedEx Cup leader struggled a bit as he sails the ball way past the hole into the bunker at 11. It would lead to a double bogey.
Koepka scrambled to bounce back though. Here at 18 he nicely gets the birdie to drop to finish his day at 2 under par.
“I drove it really well,” Koepka said. “Struck it really solid. Hit some good putts, but nothing really fell. It’s kind of been the story. It was the story at The Open. Didn’t make any putts. They’re good putts, but just hit the lip.”
Irishman Rory McIlroy, the third-ranked player in the world, began the day looking good off the tee. He had some trouble later on the front nine the put himself in position to get to a low number by ending the opening round with birdies on 4 of his last 5 holes to finish at 1-under par.
“It is important," McIlroy said. "I wanted to bounce back and respond in the right way coming in here. Sort of as soon as I finished on Friday last week, I was like, well, I’ve got another tournament in Memphis next week, get back on the horse and try to shoot four good scores and try to leave this tournament with some positives going into a little mini break before the start of the playoffs.”
Justin Thomas works he way around Southwind to finish 2-under par. The world’s 9th-ranked golfer put out a challenge to others to match his donations to St. Jude, $1,000 dollars for a Birdie and $5,000 for an eagle.
“Felt it was something I wanted to do,” Thomas said. “Wanted to do it before I went yesterday, but I feel like especially being here, this tournament is all about St. Jude, and so I felt like it was a no-brainer.
Thomas earned PGA Tour Player of the Year Honors in 2017.
Your Leader after Round One is Jon Rahm. The Spainard somehow escaping a sure bogey on Number-6 when he comes up with the Shot of the day out of the High Rough.
Rahm nearly holes out from 118 yards. It would lead to a birdie putt. Rahm goes on to turn into a birdie machine, coming up with 5 on the day. He goes into the books on top of the leader board in the first round with a score of 8 under par.
“Today seriously, the irons, everything, it was one of the best ball strikings I’ve had," Rahm said. "Not from proximity to the hole, but proximity to where I was trying to hit it. Which is the part that made it happen today. Especially with the narrow fairways they have. It’s up there. I played pretty similar at the Players, but I didn’t impact quite like this, but it’s pretty similar to my third round at the Players Championship.”
Round two of the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational begins at 11:20 a.m. Friday at the TPC at Southwind.