Padraig Harrington fired a 7-under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at The Barclays, the first event of the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Harrington, who is trying to leverage a good result into a Ryder Cup selection by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, holds a 1-stroke lead. Nick Watney and Brian Harman both fired 6-under 65s on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park.
Sergio Garcia, last week's winner at the Wyndham Championship, shot a 66 and shares fourth place with Pat Perez, Gary Christian and Jimmy Walker.
Tiger Woods, the FedExCup points leader, is part of a group tied for 14th after carding a 3-under 68. Defending champion Dustin Johnson is one stroke ahead of Woods in eighth.
While The Barclays is the first of four PGA Tour Playoff events, a more pressing concern for the Irishman Harrington is Ryder Cup selections.
He cannot make the European team on points, but could be one of two captain's picks. He has played well this season, with five top-10 finishes -- including at the Masters, U.S. Open and Pebble Beach.
However, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said Thursday that Harrington would need to "at least win" this week to make his team. Olazabal will announce his two picks Monday.
"I'm not really going to get into and discuss because I'm either going to do one of two things: I'm either going to look like I'm pleading or I'm going to look like I'm incriminating myself, one or the other," Harrington said.
"As I keep saying to people, you over here have this thing called the Fifth [Amendment]. I'm going to plead the Fifth. I'm not going to build myself up or I'm not going to tear myself down. At the end of the day, it's up to him."
Harrington was in one of the first groups off the first tee Thursday morning, and bogeyed the par-3 third after hitting his tee shot into the rough.
But that was his only mistake Thursday, and he made up the stroke immediately with a 25-footer for birdie at the fourth.
Harrington also birdied the seventh, but he made his big run on the back nine. Starting at the 11th, he ran home four consecutive birdies, and the first three were set up by excellent approaches. His longest putt in that stretch was a 9-footer.
After Harrington drained a 21-foot birdie attempt at 14, he parred 15. But his putter remained hot, as he made putts of 11 and 12 feet to reach minus-7. He parred the last to set the early standard, which nobody ended up beating.
Joining Johnson in eighth place were Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, George McNeill, K.J. Choi, and Jonas Blixt.
Phil Mickelson, world No. 2 Luke Donald, Open Champion Ernie Els and Vijay Singh are among those tied for 14th with Woods.
NOTES: The top-125 players in the FedExCup standings are eligible to play this week, and the number of players will be cut to the top 100 for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship...Jason Dufner, No. 2 on the FedExCup points list, elected not to play this week.