Tiger Woods was expecting the worst at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and that's what he got.
Only it was from his game, not from Hurricane Earl.
Even after the late starters on the TPC Boston came in from occasional bursts of rain - none of them able to catch Zach Johnson and Jason Day atop the leaderboard at 8-under 63 - they realized they got off the course in reasonable shape. The outer bands of Earl delivered some rain Friday, but not the big gusts everyone was expecting. And the first round was completed despite a 1½-hour rain delay.
That didn't help Woods.
Coming off his best tournament since June, and needing a solid week to advance to the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Woods opened with four bogeys in six holes. He hit one shot sideways across the fairway to escape nasty rough. He had to scramble for bogey on another. Six holes into the opening round, he was last in the field of 99 players.
"I didn't drive it very good. I didn't putt good. I didn't hit my irons good," he said. "Other than that, it was a good day."
He salvaged a 1-over 72, which left him nine shots out of the lead. More troubling to the world's No. 1 player, he was three shots below the projected cut line. If he doesn't make the cut, he will not be eligible to defend his title next week outside Chicago.
"I'm obviously going to have to shoot something pretty good tomorrow, just get some kind of momentum going," Woods said. "A lot is depending on what the weather does. But either way, I'm still going to have to shoot a good score."
Johnson and Day took care of that.
Johnson boosted his Ryder Cup chances - most players believe he's at the top of the list to get one of four captain's picks - by rolling in putts from all over and avoiding bogeys in perfect conditions at the TPC Boston.
Day, the 36-hole leader a week ago at The Barclays, was perhaps even better. He birdied half of his nine holes without knocking in too many long putts for his 63.
Eight players were at 64, including Ryder Cup hopeful Ryan Palmer, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy, who was the only player in that group to play in the afternoon.
There was an advantage to playing in the morning, for sure. It was calm and dry, and very much peculiar to see players being allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway. The tour had to do that in case the first round was suspended later in the day, and players returned to find a quagmire at the TPC Boston.
That never happened - only low scores. Lots of low scores.
Ogilvy made two late bogeys and still shot 64, and as he looked back toward the scoreboard next to the 18th green, he saw it filled with so many red numbers it made him squint.
"You don't often see 6 under outside the top 10 after one round, do you? Except maybe at the Bob Hope," Ogilvy said. "That's how it's playing. I think we got pretty lucky."
Ogilvy was checking the forecast for the week when he noticed the projected path of Hurricane Earl, and how it was scheduled to arrive sometime Friday afternoon. His first thought was that anyone with the late-early draw - late Friday, early Saturday - was going to have it far worse than the other way around.
Then the draw came out, and he was late-early.
"It had the potential to be the worst draw in history," he said.
There was nothing back about Johnson, including his timing. He is not consumed with the Ryder Cup, although he realizes that a good week will go a long way toward impressing U.S. captain Corey Pavin when he makes his four picks Tuesday in New York.
"It would be an honor, and I want to get on that team very, very bad," Johnson said. "But you can justify the case for a number of guys. I'm not concerned about it. I'm going to let things fall where they fall. I feel like if I keep performing decent, then I'll have a pretty good chance."
Steve Stricker is already on the team, and he turned his sights toward a couple of big numbers that could not be any farther apart. He has a chance to be No. 1 in the world with a victory this week at the TPC Boston, where he is the defending champion. And if he keeps playing this well, he'll be in the running for the $10 million prize that goes with the FedEx Cup.
Stricker opened with a 65, as did Luke Donald. The group at 66 included Matt Kuchar, who won The Barclays and now presides at No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Phil Mickelson, who also has a chance at No. 1 in the world for the 10th time this year, opened with a 69.
Mickelson, Woods and Ogilvy return Saturday morning for the second round, not knowing what kind of conditions to expect, and certainly not worrying about it as they once did.
By AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson