MEDINAH, Ill. — On the range, Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball was going. Some five hours later, he had a share of the course record at Medinah.
Ultimately, all that mattered Thursday in the BMW Championship was taking a good step toward an important goal. Thomas already is set for the Tour Championship next week and the chase for FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize. That’s not what interests him.
“I don’t give a crap about the money,” he said. “It’s about winning tournaments.”
He made his first birdie after hitting a tree on the fourth hole, leaving him a 5-iron he hit to 2 feet. His last birdie was a putt from about 60 feet on the fringe from the back of the 16th green. He did enough right in between for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak.
Tiger Woods, one week after he withdrew with a mild oblique strain at Liberty National, could only manage a 71 that felt feeble compared with everyone else. All but two players in the 69-man field were at par or better on a Medinah course that was soft from bursts of rain earlier in the week.
Woods is projected to need a top 10 this week to advance to East Lake, where he is defending champion. After one round, he was tied for 50th.
“It’s just not sharp,” Woods said. “I’m trying to make changes in my swing, and it’s just not quite there yet.”
The good news for Woods? He says he didn’t feel any tightness in his oblique.
Thomas and Kokrak had a one-shot lead over 49-year-old Jim Furyk, a former FedEx Cup champion who hasn’t been back to East Lake in five years. Patrick Cantlay, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover and Brandt Snedeker also were at 66, while the large group at 67 included Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa.
Squires in quarters at U.S. Amateur
PINEHURST, N.C. — Austin Squires advanced to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals for the second straight year after winning two matches Thursday.
The former Cincinnati player beat Stefano Mazzoli in 19 holes in the round of 32, then topped John Pak 2 and 1 in the round of 16 at Pinehurst No. 2.
The two victories came a day after Squires — the world’s 146th-ranked player who lost to eventual champion Viktor Hovland in last year’s quarterfinals at Pebble Beach — claimed the last spot in the field of 64 on the fourth hole of a 27-for-3 playoff. He then knocked off qualifying medalist Brandon Wu 2 up in their match-play opener.
Only three of the world’s top 25 amateurs reached the round of 16 — and none are in the quarterfinals.
That leaves the No. 38 John Augenstein as the highest-ranked remaining player.
The 21-year-old player at Vanderbilt knocked out two top-10 players — beating No. 5 Akshay Bhatia 4 and 2 in the round of 32 before defeating No. 9 Ricky Castillo 1 up.
It also was a rough day for the Coody twins of Plano, Texas — Parker and Pierceson, who both were eliminated in the round of 16. Georgia’s Spencer Ralston beat Parker Coody 6 and 5, and Sam Houston State’s William Holcomb V defeated Pierceson Coody 2 and 1.