Gary Woodland made seven birdies and no bogeys Thursday. (Fiume/Getty Images)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Two players trying to clinch their spots in the FedExCup Playoffs are the early leaders at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Gary Woodland shot a bogey-free 65 Thursday at Montreux Golf & Country Club to earn 14 points in this modified Stableford format and take a one-point lead over Greg Chalmers.
Birdies are worth two points, pars are worth zero and bogeys are worth -1 in this format, where the player with the most points wins. Woodland made five birdies and no bogeys on his front nine, then made seven consecutive pars before birdies on his final two holes. Reno's altitude makes Woodland -- No. 2 on TOUR in driving distance (305.6 yards per measured tee shot) -- even longer. He can reach Montreux's par-5s with mid-irons. He birdied three of the four par-5s Thursday, reaching the 18th green with a 6-iron second shot.
"My goal is just keep playing well and everything will take care of itself," said Woodland, who qualified for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in 2011. "Obviously you play well you get into the Playoffs; you play well in the Playoffs, you can do anything."
Woodland, 29, entered the week at No. 116 in the FedexCup, while Chalmers is 118th. Three weeks remain before the start of the FedExCup Playoffs. Players also have next week’s PGA Championship and the following week’s Wyndham Championship to clinch their spot among the top 125 in the FedExCup standings. The top 125 in the FedExCup (and money list) also retain their full playing privileges for the 2013-14 season.
"There is a lot of pressure right now," Chalmers said. "Last week there was a lot of pressure. Every week feels like a mini exam, a mini Q‑School kind of thing. There is a lot of pressure on a lot of shots."
Woodland was among the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking after winning the 2011 Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank. He’s made the cut in 16 of 20 starts this year, but also has no top-10s. He’s finished T-16 three times this year, his best finishes of the season.
Chalmers, 40, has just two top-10s in 21 starts this season, a T-10 at the Northern Trust Open in February and T-4 at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank in March. He’s made just six cuts in his past 15 starts, finishing no better than T-37 in that span.
After teeing off at No. 10, Chalmers made birdie on his first five holes, then birdied the par-5 18th to make the turn in 6-under 30. He made one birdie and one bogey on his back nine to shoot 66, which was worth 13 points.
Neither Woodland nor Chalmers are in next week’s PGA Championship. The Reno-Tahoe Open champion earns a spot in the field.