NORTON — Hahn, Moore, Casey, Gomez, Stuard and Vegas. By the end of Friday’s Round 1 of the Deutsche Bank Championship, the leaderboard read like a shingle hung from the front of a fairly non-descript downtown law firm.
But for all its dearth of golf’s marquee names, the first day of the $8.5 million playoff event at TPC Boston delivered on the dollar in terms of tight, if not stubborn, competition. James Hahn and Ryan Moore paced the pack, each carding 6-under-par 65s, followed fast by the 5-under likes of Paul Casey, Fabian Gomez, Brian Stuard and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas.
Another dozen players, including better known marksmen such as Jim “Mr. 58’’ Furyk, Steve Stricker, and Adam Scott, were bunched together one more stroke back at 4 under.
“Hard to say,’’ offered Moore, when asked why there was such a logjam at the top. “Usually someone will kind of separate and shoot an 8- or 9-under. But, yeah, there’s a lot of mid-range . . . a lot of 2-, 3-, 4-unders out there. Hard to say, that’s just the way it happens out there.’’
Moore, 5 feet 9 inches and 170 pounds, continued his sizzling play of the last 4-5 weeks, which included a win at the John Deere Classic on Aug. 14. With upward of $3 million stashed away this year, he has increased his career earnings to some $24 million, beefing up that total by making the cut in eight straight tournaments before arriving here.
Moore marched his way to the Deere victory with a dazzling 22 under, with rounds of 65-65-65-67. His 65 here, tied with Seoul-born Hahn, set him up nicely to make a strong push into next week’s BMW, stop No. 3 on the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“I like how I’ve been feeling,’’ said Moore. “This is actually my sixth tournament in a row, which I don’t think I’ve ever done in my entire career on the PGA Tour. I just kind of had a game plan at the beginning of the year to take a lot more time off in the summer and really focus on playing a lot here at the end — getting some positive momentum going into these events. How I’ve been doing it the last few years kind of hasn’t been working. I decided to make a final push.
“Seems to be working . . . whatever that decision was, it was a good one.’’
Hahn, who played at California-Berkeley, has two Tour wins and career earnings of $5.6 million. A tour regular since 2013, the 34-year-old won the Wells Fargo this year in a playoff. But unlike Moore, he has been cool of late, failing to make the cut in his last two events (Travelers, Barclays).
Hahn was 2 under on his first nine (he started on No. 10) and then heated up with four birdies (Holes 1, 3, 4, 9) on his back nine. Moore covered the front nine in 33 (3 under) and was an identical 3 under on the back nine. Not a single bogey between them. For the first time in his career, Hahn didn’t miss a fairway off the tee.
With the field of 97 aiming not only to win the $1.53 million top prize here but also to be among the 70 who will advance to next week’s BMW, play kicked off under partly cloudy skies at 8:15 a.m. It has been a record dry summer in New England, but the 383-acre course tucked within a chip shot of Rhode Island looked splendid for the tourney’s opening day. Good weather is expected Saturday and Sunday, with rain in the forecast for the finale on Labor Day.
Hahn and Moore, playing in the afternoon, popped just ahead of the two morning leaders, Casey and Gomez, each of whom cobbled together rounds that included birdies and bogeys to construct their 5 unders. Stuard and Vegas also worked with late tee times, Gomez and Casey long gone by the time the day’s leaderboard was complete.
Rickie Fowler, the defending champ, who marked his win here last year by treating the press tent to champagne, chiseled away in earnest and finished 2 under, easily within range to make a run over the next three days.
World No. 1 Jason Day carded a pedestrian 1 under, five strokes off the pace, and hustled off the course at day’s end upon receiving word that his wife and two children were involved in a minor car accident.
Phil Mickelson, one of the game’s greats, played the Everyman role when he made a dog’s breakfast out of Hole No. 6. Lefty parked his second shot at the edge of the water hazard, then bravely attempted two shots, the ball not visible to patrons or TV cameras. Both shots went nowhere. He ultimately surrendered, dropped a ball, and finished with an 8 — a quadruple bogey. He finished the day T93 at 75, a mere three strokes better than Patton Kizzire’s rock-bottom 78.
Among the most fearless on tour, Mickelson has both the nerve and game to come back in Day 2, shoot 6 under, and be seen here Monday with a smile to match the size of his swings.
But for now, the DBC is in the law firm’s hands, with lead partners Hahn and Moore calling the shots.
“Why?’’ said Moore, when asked why he would like to win the FedEx Cup. “Ten . . . million . . . reasons, really. I’m in my early 30s, with a growing family, and it wouldn’t be too terrible to walk away with [$10 million] at the end of the year.’’Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.