Former Northwestern golfer, Matt Fitzpatrick, close to the top of the BMW Championship leaderboard in Chicago south suburbs

Rory McIlroy and Brian Harman pushed through a rainy start for the co-lead of the BMW Championship in Chicago after the first day of competition Thursday. Amongst the Top 50 players in the world who get to shine in this second leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, it took a pair of 65s to secure that share of the leaderboard top after rounds of 5-under.

Harman, the 2023 Open Championship winner, along with McIlroy, 6-time Ryder Cup competitor, snatched the lead away from former Northwestern University golfer, Matt Fitzpatrick. The Wildcat golfer is currently sitting one stroke behind the leaders, carding a 4-under round of 66 today. The Sheffield, England native played in Evanston for one quarter in the fall of 2013 before leaving to pursue amateur golf full-time in January 2014.

On what it’s like playing again in the Chicagoland area at Olympia Fields Country Club, “I think it’s a great layout. I think it’s a great design.” Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open champion, said.

“It’s a tough golf course,” Fitzpatrick emphasized. “Obviously the rough is up if you miss the fairway, so there’s a premium on that.”

After a two-hour rain delay in the south suburb of Olympia Fields, the course’s rough mated down a number of shots for players. Yet, for current co-leader McIlroy, he used that thick grass density to his advantage to spin in a number of different chips from around the green. Most notably, and audibly from the crowd’s applause, draining a chip on 17 to make birdie. This, after dramatically threading a needle through the trees with McIlroy’s 17th tee-shot into the woods.

Describing what he saw out of those trees, “the window was okay,” McIlroy shared.

“It was more there was a couple of branches above the window I was looking at, and I was like, if it hits those, it’s just going to drop down sort of near that front left bunker and I’ll have a decent angle down the green and mostly have at least a 10-footer or less to save par,” McIlroy emphasized.

He wouldn’t just save par.

McIlroy dunked in a birdie chip on the second to last hole with a huge grin on his face. That major save followed by a par on the 18th locked in his clean scorecard of 65. A spotless and steady showing with 5-birdies and only pars on August 17.

Not a bogey in sight for McIlroy.

Let’s see if that holds true. There are still 72-holes of golf to play for the BMW Championship leaders, Friday-Sunday. Tee times start again tomorrow August 18 at 8:26 a.m. CST, weather permitting.

If you want to come out and watch these PGA players at Olympia Fields before they punch their tickets to the Tour Championship in Atlanta, GA, transportation and ticket information from the Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation is below.

Schedule and Tickets
To purchase tickets, visit Youth 15 and under receive free grounds admission when accompanied with an adult. Active duty, retirees, active reserve and veterans of any military branch are offered a complimentary ticket on each day of the BMW Championship. The BMW Championship will use mobile entry, enabling fans to easily manage, view, scan and transfer tickets. More ticket information can be found here.

Parking and Transportation
General fan parking (G-Lot) will be at Lincoln Mall (255 Lincoln Mall Dr., Matteson, Illinois). Passes must be purchased in advance. A complimentary shuttle will take fans to the course; service begins 30 minutes before gates open and runs throughout the day. Shuttle service concludes one hour after play has finished.

The rideshare pick-up and drop-off location is at Gate 1 (3033 203rd St., Olympia Fields, Illinois). Drop-offs and pick-ups are not allowed near the club’s front gate or residential areas. Spectators can also ride the Metra Electric Line (ME) to the Olympia Fields Station, located next to the Gate 1 Entrance, or park their vehicle and utilize Park and Ride Metra stations along the ME route.