LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Brandt Snedeker figured Conway Farms Golf Club was going to give up a lot of birdies this week.
He had no idea he would lead the assault.
Snedeker reeled off seven consecutive birdies in the middle of his round Thursday and went on to shoot a bogey-free, 8-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead in the BMW Championship.
The defending FedEx Cup champion held a one-stroke lead over Zach Johnson. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker of Madison were in a group at 66.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Snedeker said of his birdie streak, longest on the PGA Tour this year and two off the all-time record. “I hadn’t been playing the best, to say the least, and to get on a roll like that is always welcoming.”
Snedeker had played in seven consecutive tournaments prior to the BMW Championship and was showing signs of burnout. He missed the cut in the first playoff event, The Barclays, and then tied for 47th in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
No tournament was held last week, and Snedeker, No. 9 in the FedEx Cup points, said the break in the schedule was just what he needed.
“I kind of got away from golf a little bit and got the battery recharged,” he said.
He started on the back nine Thursday and made three straight pars before rolling in a 14-footer for birdie from the fringe on No. 13.
“That got everything moving in the right direction,” Snedeker said, “and to roll off seven birdies in a row kind of came out of nowhere.”
Three of his seven birdie putts came from off the green, including a 37-footer on No. 17.
Stricker played with Snedeker and had a front-row seat for the fireworks.
“Watching him pouring it in from all over the place is always fun,” Stricker said. “He’s probably the best putter I’ve ever seen. The guy makes it, or looks like he’s going to make it, from just about anywhere. It’s fun to watch.”
Conway Farms, playing host to a PGA Tour event for the first time, has generous fairways, relatively flat greens and reachable par-5s.
Asked if wind was the course’s main defense, Woods said, “That’s the only thing they’ve got.”