What they said: Thomas finds putting secret in Northern Trust opener

Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm both fired 63s on day one of the FedEx Cup opener in New Jersey to roar three shots clear of the field.

Best bets

Justin Thomas to win at 10/3

Patrick Cantlay e.w. (1/5 4 places) at 30/1

First-round quotes from Liberty National

A look at what some of the leading players said after round one...

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Jon Rahm (8-under 63)

"I was honestly thinking there will be some rust to get rid of (after a month off), and there was a little bit.

"Those first five holes or six holes, even though I was 2-under par, it was very close to being a very different story. That chip-in on 3, if it doesn't hit the hole, I'm looking for a 40-footer for par. Made a great up and down on 4 and 5.

"I guess that's why you practice the short game because that is three holes I stole a couple shots and got really full of confidence, hit a couple of good putts, and just took off running.

"That 7th hole was about as perfect as I can play it and keep putting myself in good positions. That's the key. I hit it so good off the tee, and my irons felt really comfortable. When you have soft greens, you can really take advantage of this."

Justin Thomas (8-under 63)

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"You're going to laugh at me. I had my AJG event last week in Louisville and kind of saw some of the kids playing their practice rounds. There's a girl Abigail that my Dad teaches that I went out to go see because I played a couple rounds with her. She's a really good player, and she was playing with, I think, another two girls, a girl that my dad teaches and then a boy.

"He was using the putter, pretty much my putter, that Scotty Cameron, and he was like, you know, when are you going to start using it again? Are you still using the long neck? I was like, yeah, I am, and I was kind of explaining it, and he's just like, well, when are you going to start using it again? And I found myself defending myself to this 15-year-old!

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"I was like why am I not using this thing? I've had a lot of success. It's not like I'm making a lot of putts with what I have. I don't know, it kind of hit me. I'm like the kid's got a point. Maybe I should bring it out. When I brought it out, it looked good, it felt good. Again, a lot of familiar feelings with it." Thomas ranked T4 in Putts Per GIR on day one.

Harold Varner (5-under 66)

"Any time you're leading a golf tournament you probably played pretty well, especially out here. It's windy.

"The biggest thing for me was last week I just had a terrible attitude. Having a bad attitude probably makes me more mad than I guess playing bad golf. That's the only thing you control.

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"You don't really control what you're going to shoot or where your golf ball is going to end up, but you control how you approach each shot."

Adam Scott (4-under 67)

"I've really struggled to get my game in the shape to contend at that level out here this year, and finally it was feeling that way (when losing in a playoff last week).

"Importantly, I wanted to bring it here this week, and so far I have. So that outweighs the disappointment, the encouragement of where tee to green I feel like I'm going is really good. But I'm running out of weeks to put that to use, so I'd better play well.

"I feel like I've played plenty of good golf around here. Most of the holes, I feel really comfortable on. It's a course I'm very happy to come back to."

Viktor Hovland (3-under 68)

"it was pretty solid, especially off the tee. I hit a lot of fairways, which out here is important if you want to get close to the pins.

"Hit a lot of really nice iron shots. Couple not so good ones, but I was able to hit some good short game shots and make a couple putts. So it was a good day overall."

Patrick Cantlay (3-under 68)

"I thought it played really hard today. I don't think it's normal for it to be that windy that early, but it was soft. So if you hit good shots, you would be rewarded.

"I just tried to hit smart shots all day and hit a lot of really nice shots, controlled my golf ball, and made a couple putts."

Dustin Johnson (1-under 70)

(On cracking his driver and having to play with a 3-wood) "Especially into the wind, it's a big difference. Because my 3-wood's like a 275 shot, but into the wind, obviously that comes way down, whereas driver I can still carry in the 290s to 300 into the wind.

"The first few holes, it took me a minute to kind of get back into what I was doing, just because especially a day like today with the wind blowing as hard as it is, for me, having a driver, which is kind of the club that I like to hit all the time off the tee really.

"Threw me for a loop there because it was literally ten minutes before I was teeing off when it happened (cracked). Managed to get a decent round in there.

(On a putter change) "I switched back to the Spider right before the round. I've been using my blade for a while. I was hitting some putts on the putting green this morning, and it didn't feel too good, so I went and grabbed my Spider."

Scottie Scheffler (1-under 70)

"I got off to a good start. I made some really nice putts to start the day. I really wasn't hitting it that good. I just made some really good putts.

"Then I started struggling a little bit there. Hung in there pretty good. I just couldn't really get anything going. I had a silly lost ball on 15. It was one I felt like I should've found and we didn't find it.

"And then other than that, overall not too displeased. I wish I would've kept it rolling this morning, but under par is never a terrible score."

Conclusion

Rahm is the clear favourite but Thomas is a dangerous customer when hitting the front early.

JT has had nine previous 18-hole leads/co-leads on the PGA TOUR and converted four of them.

By contrast Rahm has converted just one of his six.

Patrick Cantlay is nicely placed just inside the top 10 and looks a decent each-way punt at 30/1.

Scoring average in R1: 71.285

READ MORE: Punter's pointers: The Northern Trust

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