2018 Tour Championship leaderboard: Rickie Fowler matches Tiger Woods score in Round 1
Fowler and Woods both burned down East Lake on Thursday afternoon
Can I interest you in a Rickie Fowler-Tiger Woods final pairing in the second round of the 2018 Tour Championship on Friday? That's what we'll get after both golfers shot 65 on Thursday in Round 1 at East Lake. Fowler and Woods both followed up terrific showings at the BMW Championship two weeks ago with equally strong first rounds on what Fowler called "a little tougher golf course" at East Lake.
Fowler finished first ahead of Woods on Thursday and birdied the last hole for his 65 to slide one slot ahead of Gary Woodland and Justin Rose on the leaderboard. He finished in the top 10 in both strokes gained from tee to green and strokes gained putting, and it's easy to see why with made birdie putts of 8, 9, 12 and 19 feet.
The 65 was Fowler's fourth in five rounds since coming back from an oblique injury following the PGA Championship at Bellerive.
"Sixty-five has been a good number to me," Fowler told Steve Sands of Golf Channel. "I started with three 65s at Aronimink. A little tougher golf course here, but I'm definitely happy with that. There's a lot of golf left. All I can control is what I do and go out and try to win this week and see where the chips fall."
just a little bit later in the day with a 28-foot eagle bomb at the last. It touched off his third 65 or better in his last five rounds and gave him a share of the first round lead for the second consecutive tournament (Woods also co-led the BMW with Rory McIlroy after firing a 62 in Round 1).
There is a lot of golf left to be played -- Kyle Stanley led after Round 1 here last year following a 64 and went on to finish T20 -- but Woods and Fowler are in an enviable position. Leading an elite field in the season finale with more than $30 million at stake in both tournament and bonus money. Friday with two of the United States 12 Ryder Cup golfers should be exciting as both Fowler and Woods go for their first win of 2018.
Four more takeaways on Day 1 of the Tour Championship.
1. Bryson, where art thou? After 18 holes, FedEx Cup leader Bryson DeChambeau is T21. He fired a 1-over 71 and only beat just six of the other 29 players in the field. As a result, he's projected to drop from No. 1 to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup rankings, which is a loss of (does some calculations, busts out a TI-83) $8.5 million. Not a good start!
2. New FedEx Cup leader: Because of DeChambeau's tumble, we have a new projected leader of the FedEx Cup and $10 million first prize. It's Justin Rose. Rose is T3 but because Fowler and Woods started the event so deep in the FedEx Cup standings, he's your new FedEx leader and would go home with $10 million if the tournament ended right now.
3. Rory, again? Rory McIlroy sits two back after a 3-under 67 in which he birdied four of the first six holes. He's looking for a repeat of 2016, where he won the Tour Championship, FedEx Cup and then single-handedly tried to go and burn down Hazeltine and the Ryder Cup himself the week thereafter. I don't know if we'll get that this week, but I'm excited to watch McIlroy, who ranked in the top five in the field in approach shots on Thursday, try to snag a FedEx Cup from the No. 17 slot in the field.
4. Ryder implications: Should the U.S. be concerned that four of its players (Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson) failed to break par while every European player in the field except for Francesco Molinari did so? No. But it's worth keeping an eye on as we inch toward next week's matches in Paris.
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