Paramus, N.J. — Brian Stuard barely made the FedEx Cup playoffs. He doesn’t look like he has any intentions of being shipped out very soon.
Stuard, a Jackson native and Oakland University alum, was near the top of the leaderboard most of Thursday, and even was tied for the lead at one point, before finishing with a 3-under 68 at The Northern Trust.
That put Stuard two shots off the lead after the opening round. Five players were tied at 5 under, and another 13 at 4 under.
Stuard was 118th in the FedEx Cup rankings, when only the top 125 qualified for this first of four playoff events. The top 100 after this week move on to Week 2.
Among the leaders was Sean O’Hair, who drilled a 3-wood from 284 yards to 6 feet for eagle on No. 3. He hammered another 3-wood on the par-5 17th to 10 feet, settling for a two-putt birdie. That carried O’Hair to a 5-under 66, giving him a share of the lead with Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark and Vaughn Taylor.
“I’m obviously very disappointed that I’m not in a better position, but I’m kind of in charge of my destiny,” said O’Hair, who started the week 121st in the FedEx Cup rankings. “If I play good golf I’m just going to work into the next week.”
Tiger Woods, playing for the first time since his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, had a pair of birdies, a pair of bogeys, a lot of pars and a 71. He was five shots behind and in a tie for 60th. After a rough start off the tee, Woods wound up hitting nine of 14 fairways. He just never got it close enough for good looks at birdie.
“Just didn’t have the situations where I had the full club and I could go ahead and take a rip at it and start being aggressive and going after these flags,” Woods said. “I kept having to play a little defensive because I was taking more club, trying to shape it and take spin off. One of those days.”
Stuard, 35, who plays in the morning today, is searching for his second PGA Tour victory.
Petoskey’s Joey Garber shot a 3-under 68 and was tied for 13th, four shots back, in the first playoff event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
Garber already has secured his PGA Tour card for 2018-19.
Sweden’s Henrik Norlander birdied the final hole for a 7-under 64 and a one-stroke lead.
Nasa Hataoka, Ariya Jutanugarn and Mariajo Uribe each shot 8-under 64 to tie for the early lead at the CP Women’s Open in Regina, Saskatchewan.