MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “It’s the people and the atmosphere that’s what makes these tournaments and when you don’t have that there is nothing for them to really differentiate themselves,” said Rory McIlroy
It’s just the second ever WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational and hopefully it will be the last one ever like this. Without fans being allowed in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic today’s opening round certainly had a different feel.
Where there are normally roars, there was a few isolated claps. But what this tournament has to lack in atmosphere was made up for in performance.
The defending champ Brooks Koepka coming onto the course in a big way, think this guy’s ready to defend his throne. He comes out of the gate with 4 straight birdies, finishing the front nine at -5.
“I definitely feel comfortable in this place, I like it. But at the same time it’s all the work we’ve put in the last three weeks of beating balls and on the putting green,” said Brooks Koepka.
You want big names on the leaderboard well you got it. Matt Kuchar in the mix as well. Koooch coming up with this birdie on the par 4 10th. Finishing in a four way tie for fifth at -4.
Also in that group at -4, world No. 3, Justin Thomas, who ends his round on a high note, sinks this 17 foot birdie to end the round at -4.
And don’t forget about Rickie Fowler, making his return to Memphis and his WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational debut. Rolling in this birdie on the 6th finishing at -6.
“I am definitely happy to be back. This golf course will pick you apart where, and how far, and the correct line so yeah it is satisfying to go out on the course like this and get out to a solid start,” said Rickie Fowler.
Fowler with some company at minus 6 too. And if you are going to make shots like this you deserve to be tied for second. Brendon Todd plops it right by the pin. He’d birdie the hole after an opening round of 64.
“It’s not overly long and it rewards accuracy so even though I drive it 280 I can still attack the pins. So, I feel like it’s a fair course for all the different lengths out here,” said Brendon Todd.
But one thing that hasn’t changed this year. Everyone’s chasing that man right there. Koepka setting the pace finishing with a par putt on 18. Holding a 2 stroke lead at 8 under after day one.
“I never really felt like I was having to work too hard out there, a little different than it has been. But I guess why that’s I put in all the work”
With a star studded leader board it’s shaping up to be a fantastic second round from Southwind.