Jonathan Byrd Jonathan Byrd takes early lead in FedEx Cup's BMW Championship

Needing a good finish in the BMW Championship to stay among the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points standings, Jonathan Byrd got off to an ideal start Thursday.

Byrd fired a 7-under-par round of 64 on the Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club to take a one-shot lead in the third leg of the PGA Tour's four playoff events. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings after this weekend's tournament advance to play in next week's Tour Championship at Atlanta.

Despite the situation, Byrd said he was determined not to put too much extra pressure on himself.

"I've played well all year, and it's been a successful year," Byrd said in his post-round press conference at Lemont, Ill. "(I) won a tournament and have a lot of good finishes -- feel good about my game. It would be nice to play well this week, and that's what I'm here for.

"If I get in next week, I get in next week. I went out just trying to play the golf course today and felt good about my game and made a few extra putts today and here I am."

Byrd enters Friday's second round of the 72-hole tournament with a one-stroke leader over Justin Rose and Camilo Villegas, who both shot 6-under 65. Stewart Cink, Troy Matteson and Pat Perez are tied for fourth at 5-under 66 and Tiger Woods heads a group of seven players at 4-under 67 that includes Woody Austin.

It appeared Woods would finish near the top of the leaderboard, but the world No. 1-ranked player made double bogey on his 16th hole of the day at the par-4 seventh. That was Woods' only mistake in a round that also included six birdies.

"I felt like I hit the ball decent today, but putted a lot better," Woods told reporters. "Just had that one bad hole at No. 7, but other than that, it was a pretty good day."

Not good enough to match Byrd. After making a bogey on the par-3 second hole, the Anderson, S.C., native responded with a birdie at No. 3 and then made three consecutive birdies on holes 6-8 to make the turn at 3-under 32. On the back nine, Byrd birdied Nos. 10, 12, 15 and 16.

Byrd, the winner in the John Deere Classic earlier this season, has held an 18-hole lead only once in his PGA Tour career. He shared the first-day lead at the 2003 John Deere Classic with J.L. Lewis (6-under 65).

The 64 was the best opening-round score Byrd has had on Tour. His 7-under par total also matched his career-best, in relation to par -- a 7-under-par 65 in the first round of the 2005 Southern Farm Bureau Classic.

Byrd said winning the John Deer Classic has been the key to his season. He entered the tournament having posted nine top-25 finishes, including three top-10s, in 21 starts this season. He has accumulated more than $1.5 million in earnings this year.

"It's amazing what winning does for you confidence-wise," Byrd said. "I missed the previous four cuts before John Deere and then I go win a tournament and I'm just bubbling with confidence.

"You get in position to win and you do it and then you just feel like you go to the next tournament and try to win that one. So it's very addictive, winning."

September 7, 2007

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