If the 2016-17 PGA Tour season ended after the first round of the Tour Championship, Kyle Stanley would take home the trophy for the week, but Jordan Spieth would claim the $10 million first prize for the FedEx Cup. Stanley went out and shot a 6-under 64 on Thursday, which was the round of the day by two strokes. He leads Webb Simpson, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey by a pair after 18 holes.
Spieth retained his hold on the FedEx Cup, though, by firing his own 3-under 67 to get within three of the lead. Spieth only made one bogey, but he could only muster a single birdie over the last 10 holes. It was a solid round from him to get in the hunt, but there is still work to do.
"I'm surprised we're at 3 under," Spieth said. "I felt like it was really a grind out there. It's because the first four or five holes of the round I was all over the place tee to green. Then my whole back nine, I had a chance to birdie all but one of the holes, and I only made one of them."
Spieth actually ended up No. 7 in the field in strokes gained tee to green on the day and outside the top 10 in putting. Still, you have to trust with him that the putts will drop at some point. His calling card all year has been with his irons, and he really had it going coming home. If he keeps doing that over the final three days, he'll likely end up as not only the FedEx Cup winner, but the Tour Championship title holder for the second time in three years, too.
Let's take a look at the rest of the notables on the leaderboard.
1. Kyle Stanley (-6): He is probably the most underrated ball-striker on the PGA Tour, and Stanley took the course apart on Thursday at East Lake. He only had one bogey to seven birdies and led the field in strokes gained tee to green. He's a long shot to win the FedEx Cup because he came in at No. 22 in the rankings, but if he wins the tournament and Spieth finishes where he is right now (T6), then Stanley would come in second in the FedEx Cup and still take home a $3 million bonus.
T2. Paul Casey and Webb Simpson (-4): Simpson came into this tournament in 2011 leading the FedEx Cup, but he finished outside the top 20 (of 30) and narrowly lost to Bill Haas at the end. He and Casey have both been playing terrific golf of late, but Casey hasn't won since 2009, and Simpson hasn't won since 2013.
T2. Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (-4): I really love Berger's swing. It's so quirky and unique, and he absolutely obliterated a shot coming into No. 18 that resulted in an eagle. It's not difficult to see either one of these former Florida State Seminoles winning this week and taking that momentum into the team event at the Presidents Cup next week at Liberty National.
T6. Justin Thomas (-3): Thomas is worth mentioning alongside Spieth as well, given that those two are Nos. 1 and 2 in the FedEx Cup race. Spieth said he thought Thomas could have scored better based on how he drove it (Thomas was No. 1 in the field off the tee). They will play together again on Friday, and I would not be surprised to seem them play together in the final pairing on Saturday and Sunday either.
T6. Jordan Spieth (-3): He would be just the second player besides Tiger Woods to win two FedEx Cups if he does it again this week. He has to be rooting for somebody like Stanley to win (if Spieth doesn't) because it makes his path to $10 million that much easier.
T6. Jon Rahm (-3): He missed so many makable putts on Thursday and still lit it up. I'm here for Rahm's Tim Duncan-like reactions. Also, I'm curious about how many tournaments he'd have to play in a row before wearing down. He's built like he can go on forever.
Russell Henley and Gary Woodland are also T6 at 3 under. Just behind this group at T11, Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Pat Perez, Kevin Kisner and Justin Rose are lurking. Any of them could make a move on the leaders on Friday, and I expect at least one of them to do just that. The first day of the Tour Championship was a bit of a grind, but the fireworks should be popping this weekend as the best in the world try and close out another spectacular season on the PGA Tour.
Thanks for stopping by.