Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are tied for the lead on four-under par after the first day of the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
The same two players lead the way in the FedEx Cup standings with Kirk in first place and Horschel closely behind him. They both know that victory in the FedEx Cup play-off finale would see them claim the title and land themselves a $10million (£6million) prize bonus.
Kirk and Horschel enjoyed steady, bogey-free rounds of 66 but they both had opportunities to take an outright lead on the final hole after missed putts.
Horschel is relishing being in contention and is very pleased with his game at the moment.
"My confidence feels pretty high out there,” said Horschel.
“Right now the way I’m feeling I feel like every round is going to be a great round for me. I feel like my swing’s good, I’m trying to slow the tempo down a little bit from last week.
“I love being in contention, it’s what every players plays for and it’s been great to be in there the last couple of weeks. We’re all competitive and when you get in contention you want to stay there.”
Ironically, Bubba Watson is in a tie for third after day one in Atlanta and also sits third in the FedEx Cup standings.
Watson experienced an eventful back nine which included a double-bogey six on the 13th after he attempted a difficult escape shot from the trees rather than a simple chip out.
But the Masters champion made amends with three straight birdies to reach four-under par leaving him in a four-way tie for third
Finish with a flourish
Joining Watson on four-under is American Ryder-Cup teammate Jim Furyk after he finished with a flourish after picking up four birdies in his last six holes.
Patrick Reed had earlier been the clubhouse leader after carding a three-under par before sliding down the leaderboard. The American admitted that he was affected by fatigue as he began his seventh event in as many weeks.
“I’m tired, this is the seventh week in a row for us and I’ve not had that before,” Reed said on Sky Sports after his round.
“I’ve been working hard with my swing coach these last couple of days on just trying to get into a rhythm and keep as much energy as possible and we’ve found a good gameplan which seems to be working.
“The rough is really thick out there, also the wind’s blowing a little bit, it seems like it was swirling a little bit today and it just makes it a little bit tougher to get it really close and give you that chance of a makeable birdie.”
Reed wasn't the only player who wasn't feeling at peak fitness as Australian Jason Day has struggled recently back back problems but managed a steady round of 67. Day was also without his regular caddie - who is also struggling with a back injury - but the Australian is hoping that his treatment has will help his game.
“Since Friday been doing some sessions with my trainer twice a day, so the back feels a lot better than it did last week,” he said.
“When you get that much treatment and massage on your back it put your swing and your timing out a little bit so hopefully as we go along hopefully that will get better.”
Rory McIlroy is three shots off the pace on one-under as he looks to win his first FedEx Cup title. The Northern Irishman admits that he is striving everyday to rekindle the form that saw him win the last two majors of the year.
“It was a grind out there, it feels like every day over the last few weeks has been a grind just trying to get up there and play my best golf,” said McIlroy.
“It seems like every step forward I take I’m knocked back one straight away.
“Regardless of prize money and everything I just want to win the FedEx Cup. Even though this wasn’t the best day I still shot under par and I’m still in the golf tournament.”
Zach Johnson makes up the top five in the FedEx Cup standings and is in contention for the bonus prize after shooting a round of 68. The American is tied in seventh with Matt Kuchar, Cameron Tringale and former champion Bill Haas.
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