Streaking Snedeker seizes BMW Championship lead
Brandt Snedeker waits to hit a shot near the ninth green during the First Round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on September 12, 2013 in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Snedeker defied gusty winds on the par-71 Conway Farms Golf Club course -- hosting a PGA Tour event for the first time -- and held a one-stroke lead over fellow American Zach Johnson.
Johnson, a two-time winner this year, had seven birdies in a flawless seven-under 64 and was two strokes in front of world number one Tiger Woods, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Steve Stricker and Kevin Streelman.
Reigning Masters champ Adam Scott, of Australia, posted a four-under 67, and shared seventh place with John Merrick, Ryan Moore and Nick Watney.
Snedeker opened on the back nine and his run of seven straight birdies began at 13.
The American came into the penultimate event in the US tour's FedEx Cup playoffs ranked ninth in the standings and already in line to become the first player to return to the Tour Championship the year after winning the playoffs crown and its $10 million bonus.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who shot to the top of the playoff standings with his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago, carded a one-over 72.
Woods, who came into the week at second in the playoff race, said his score could have been better but for a trio of missed putts from within five feet -- two of them leading to bogeys.
"I'm not exactly real happy," said Woods, who had seven birdies to go with his two bogeys. "I played well and I just didn't get much out of that round."
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, who won this title last year at Crooked Stick, struggled to a seven-over 78 and was tied for 66th place.
His card included a triple-bogey seven at the par-four first hole -- his 10th hole of the day -- and a double-bogey five at the par-three 11th.
McIlroy, who came into the tournament at 41st in the playoff standings, needs a big turnaround to reach the top 30 and advance to the Tour Championship.