Rory Sabbatini, at 26th in the FedExCup standings, could afford to relax at the Deutsche Bank Championship a fortnight ago, but must improve on his opening one-over-par 72 at Cog Hill on Thursday.
With no cut, the BMW Championship gives Sabbatini three further rounds to recover, but in order to make the Tour Championship he cannot repeat his first day’s result, which included six dropped shots.
Sabbatini, who started on the 10th, struggled with sand on his back nine. He bogeyed the 11th after finding a fairway bunker off the tee, and double-dropped on the 14th after his first attempt to play out of a greenside bunker failed.
He recovered a shot before turning, but his 38 strokes would see him head to the first tee at two-over.
Sabbatini would two-putt the first for his last drop of the day after struggling on the quick greens of Cog Hill.
He did well to save pars as he closed out his round, and carded birdies on the third and eighth to recover some of his drops.
Ernie Els carded three bogeys through his first six holes, but put in a decent recovery during the remainder of his round and closed the day at one-over-par.
Els, who needs nothing less than a third-place finish to make the Tour Championships, will be adamant on cutting his bogey count.
Masters winner Charl Schwartzel also struggled with his opening round, despite turning at one-under.
He had difficulty finding fairways and dropped three shots after the turn, signing for a card of two-over-par 73.
Sabbatini may not need a miracle to progress, but he must improve on his 72 or face missing out on his shot at the Tour Championship.