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golf roundup

Brandt Snedeker charges out to early lead at BMW

Brandt Snedeker already is assured of making the Tour Championship.

michael cohen/getty images

Brandt Snedeker already is assured of making the Tour Championship.

Brandt Snedeker was making so many birdies that even an 18-foot putt looked like a mere tap-in.

When he finished his amazing run Thursday in the BMW Championship, he had seven straight birdies on his card and an 8-under-par 63 at blustery Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill.

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‘‘You get on runs like that, you get excited for the next hole because you know something good is going to happen, because you’re in such a good frame of mind and everything is going in the right direction,’’ Snedeker said.

In this case, everything was going in — a 15-foot putt from the fringe on the 13th, another 15-footer on the next hole when he used the blade of his sand wedge to bump the ball out of the short rough, and a 40-footer from the fringe on the 17th stood out to him.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson in the third FedEx Cup playoff event. Tiger Woods sounded disgusted with his round of 66, mainly because he had a pair of three-putt bogeys and missed a 4-foot birdie putt over his last five holes.

‘‘I’m not exactly real happy,’’ Woods said. ‘‘I played well, and I just didn’t get much out of that round.”

Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel, and Kevin Streelman also were at 66.

Rickie Fowler opened with a pair of double bogeys, followed by a pair of bogeys. He rallied for a 77. Rory McIlroy made a double bogey — his ninth of the FedEx Cup playoffs — on his second hole, and then three-putted from 4 feet for a triple bogey and staggered to a 78. Lee Westwood, fighting severe pain in his back and ribs, had an 80.

‘‘There’s a good mixture of really hard holes and really good birdie opportunities. I think that makes for exciting golf,’’ Phil Mickelson said after opening with a 70.

The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup after the BMW Championship advance to the Tour Championship next week and a shot at the $10 million prize.

Westwood is at No. 30 and likely played himself out of a trip to East Lake, though he didn’t appear to be healthy enough to play. McIlroy is at No. 41 and all but took himself out of the Tour Championship. He needs to finish around seventh in the 70-man field. His 78 put him in a tie for 66th.

‘‘It’s going to be a very uphill task,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘I’ll try to get to even par as quickly as I can.’’

Snedeker is at No. 9 in the FedEx Cup and assured of being the first defending FedEx Cup champion to make it to the Tour Championship. He is trying to move into the top five, for those players have a clear shot at the $10 million bonus — all they have to do is win at East Lake no matter what anyone else does.

LPGA — At Evian-les-Bains, France, the first day of play at the Evian Championship was washed out after heavy morning rain soaked the newly-designed course.

Players were on the course for less than one hour before being forced to come off, and organizers decided to restart the round on Friday with Thursday’s scores annulled.

European — Nearly two decades after winning this tournament, Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 6-under 64 for the first-round lead at the KLM Open in Zandvoort, Netherlands.

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Darren Clarke will return to the PGA Tour for the first time in seven years, taking advantage of the five-year exemption he earned by winning the 2011 British Open.

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