Woods, Fowler lead Tour Championship after first round
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[September 21, 2018]
(Reuters) - Tiger Woods swung
with rhythmic precision and wielded a hot putter to tie Rickie
Fowler for the first-round lead at the season-ending Tour
Championship on Thursday.
A week before returning to the Ryder Cup for the first time since
2012, Woods finished in style with an eagle at the par-five 18th to
cap a five-under-par 65 at East Lake in Atlanta.
He and Fowler led by one stroke from fellow American Gary Woodland
and England's world number one Justin Rose.
FedExCup points leader Bryson DeChambeau battled to a 71 to lie
equal 21st in the 30-man field.
Woods started the event ranked 20th in the standings after an
excellent campaign missing only a victory in his first season back
from a spinal fusion.
"I've earned my way back," the 14-times major champion, making his
first start in the event since 2013, told reporters.
A three-putt bogey at the first was the only blemish as Woods added
four birdies before striking a crisp five-wood from 255 yards to the
It was just like yesteryear for Woods, who knew he had executed the
shot to perfection well before his ball landed in the heart of the
green and stopped 27 feet from the hole.
"Once it reached its peak and I saw it was going through the wind I
started walking (because) I knew it was good," he said.
"It took forever for that putt to start breaking ... but once (the
grain) snagged it, it was going straight right."
Fowler matched Woods, posting his fourth 65 in his past five rounds,
while Rose shot 66 despite wedge play he described as "so bad" in a
conversation with his caddie picked up by the on-course microphone.
"Really happy with my round," Rose, making his first start as world
number one, told reporters after birdies at the final two holes.
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Tiger Woods lines up his putt on the 16th hole during the first
round of the Tour Championshipgolf tournament
at East Lake Golf Club.
Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
"I played fantastically, drove the ball unbelievably well, which
sets up the opportunity to score well.
"With a couple of holes to play I was a little frustrated I hadn't
got more out of my round."
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy could not parlay a hot start into a
great score, settling for a 67 matched by Americans Justin Thomas
and Tony Finau.
"Four-under through six, unfortunately I just didn't keep it going
but if I keep swinging and hitting the ball like that I should be
right up there at the end of the week," McIlroy said.
DeChambeau, meanwhile, struggled on what he said was the toughest
rough he had experienced in his brief career.
"The rough is brutal out there. I've never encountered something
that thick," he said. "Hopefully I'll learn from that and not hit as
many errant tee shots."
DeChambeau started the event with an edge in the race for the $10
million bonus awarded to the winner of the season-long points race.
Everyone in the field, however, has a mathematical chance of
claiming the FedExCup.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed
Osmond and Ken Ferris)
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