Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods shot matching 65s on Thursday and share the lead after the opening round of the 2018 Tour Championship.
Fowler was first to post the day’s low round after signing for a card comprised of one bogey against six birdies, including a final gain on the 18th to reach 5-under par.
“It was a good day. I didn’t get off to necessarily a great start on my swing,” said Fowler, whose 65 marked his lowest round at East Lake.
“Managed to kick my way around the first few holes and making a couple birdies on the 5th and 6th and then bogeyed the 7th and birdied 8. Started swinging better.
“Once I got to No. 8, it’s a hole where you have to make a really good swing off the tee to not make bogey really. Stepped up and kind of had a few things I knew I needed to focus on on the driver swing, and from there on in, we swung well.
“I think from there, pretty much I think I missed one fairway, which the ball was in the first cut, and I think I hit every green from there on in. Made it very stress-free.
Woods, playing two groups back of Fowler, also dropped just one shot on the day, but offset his blemish with four birdies and a final-hole eagle to share the day-one marquee with his Ryder Cup teammate.
“I played well today. It wasn’t exactly the start I was looking for, but I made two good putts there at 5 and 6 and got to under par, and then from there I hit it pretty good, made a few putts,” said Woods who posted his second consecutive 65 (round four BMW).
“But more than anything, I missed it all on the correct sides. Even the fairways I missed, all were on the correct sides. I had nice angles. The shots I missed were on the greens, all had beautiful angles.
“All in all, I had a lot of control today.”
Gary Woodland, along with the newly-minted world No.1, Justin Rose, were one back at 4-under par, a shot clear of the two most recent FedExCup winners in Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for fifth at 3-under 67 alongside Tony Finau.
Rounding out the top 10 were Paul Casey, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Jason Day who each carded 2-under par 68 to sit T8.
FedExCup points leader Bryson DeChambeau struggled to a 1-over par 71 and sat T21 after day one at East Lake.
2018 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND ONE: TOP 5
1. Rickie Fowler -5
1. Tiger Woods -5
3. Gary Woodland -4
3. Justin Rose -4
5. Rory McIlroy -3
5. Justin Thomas -3
5. Tony Finau -3
FEDEXCUP PROJECTION AFTER ROUND ONE
Proj Pos-Player-(Rd1 Pos)-Current FedExCup Pos
1. Justin Rose (T3) 2nd
2. Tiger Woods (T1) 20th
3. Rickie Fowler (T1) 23rd
4. Bryson DeChambeau (T21) 1st
5. Tony Finau (T5) 3rd
6. Justin Thomas (T5) 5th
7. Dustin Johnson (T12) 4th
ROUND ONE STAT LEADERS
1. Rory McIlroy – 331.8 yards (T5)
2. Gary Woodland – 324.4 yards (T3)
3. Tommy Fleetwood – 315.4 yards (T12)
1. Justin Rose – 85.7%, 12/14 (T3)
2. Paul Casey – 85.7%, 12/14 (T8)
3. Seven Players – 71.4%, 10/14
1. Justin Rose – 94.4%, 17/18 (T3)
2. Rickie Fowler – 88.9%, 16/18 (T1)
3. Justin Thomas – 83.3%, 15/18 (T5)
1. Rory McIlroy – 1.500 (T5)
2. Kevin Na – 1.500 (T25)
3. Kyle Stanley – 1.545 (T12)
ROUND ONE LEADERS’ STATS
Driving: 310.1 yards (8th)
Fairways: 71.4%, 10/14 (3rd)
Greens: 77.8%, 14/18 (5th
Putts/GIR: 1.714 (9th)
Scoring: 1 Eagle, 4 Birdies, 12 Pars, 1 Bogey
Driving: 305.4 yards (17th)
Fairways: 64.3%, 9/14 (10th)
Greens: 88.9%, 16/18 (2nd)
Putts/GIR: 1.688 (7th)
Scoring: 6 Birdies, 11 Pars, 1 Bogey
ROUND-ONE LEADERS’ QUESTIONS
QUESTION: What does go through your head as you start seeing Tiger on the leaderboard more often now?
FOWLER: It’s awesome. I got to play a decent amount with him last fall and watch him kind of get back to where he was healthy and able to go play for fun.
I remember there was a day we were up at Medalist and we played 18, and I was going to go home and work out, and he went out to go play another nine. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to see him just go play for fun. He wanted to keep playing, so he kept playing.
I think the biggest — in my eyes, looking at it, the biggest win for him is just staying healthy and being out here all year consistently. Definitely happy for him.
It’s obviously great for our sport. It’s great to have him as part of the team next week. We hope he continues to play well. I just want to play a little bit better and beat him.
QUESTION: Is it difficult to discipline yourself to not go at some of the flags knowing the greens are as tricky as they are?
WOODS: Well, it’s not like we faced a couple weeks ago when you felt uncomfortable firing at 18 straight flags.
Here we’re playing a little bit more conservatively and working the ball in there, and take your par. Dump it and move on. The scores are indicative of that.
The guys aren’t going to be running away with this. The golf course is just too difficult and too hard.