Scottie Scheffler’s lead grows, Rory McIlroy’s bizarre day and a pair of 64s amongst Thursday takeaways on the Tour Championship

ATLANTA – Scottie Scheffler began with a two-stroke lead within the staggered-start leaderboard on the Tour Championship. By day’s finish, it had greater than doubled to 5 strokes over Xander Schauffele.

Scheffler birdied the ultimate three holes to shoot 5-under 65 at East Lake Golf Membership and improved to fifteen below after the opening spherical of the FedEx Cup finale.

“It’s kind of unusual,” Scheffler stated of beginning the spherical at 10 below with a two-stroke lead. “That is why I discuss so much about not wanting on the leaderboards and stuff like that as a result of if I try to exit and do my greatest and fake like I am making an attempt to win an everyday stroke-play occasion for 4 days, I believe I ‘m going to be in a superb place come Sunday afternoon, in order that’s going to be my plan going ahead.”

Scheffler made his first birdie of the day on the third gap and drilled a 3-iron from 230 yards on the par-5 sixth gap and poured right into a 17-foot eagle putt. His lead grew to as many as six strokes at one level as Patrick Cantlay, the defending FedEx Cup champion and winner of final week’s BMW Championship, managed to solely shoot even-par 70.

What would it not imply to Scheffler to cap off his season with the FedEx Cup trophy on Sunday? “It might positively be the icing on the cake for the 12 months,” he stated.

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Xander Schauffele eats up East Lake once more

2022 Tour Championship

2022 Tour Championship

Xander Schauffele walks off the 18th inexperienced in the course of the first spherical of the TOUR Championship golf match. Obligatory Credit score: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports activities

Schauffele, who gained the Tour Championship in 2017 and has by no means completed worse than T-7 in his earlier 5 begins right here, continued his stellar play at East Lake. He shot 66, a stroke higher than his profession scoring common on the course of 67.2 in 21 rounds. Schauffele is alone in two 5 strokes behind Scheffler and a stroke higher than US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

For Schauffele, the important thing to his spherical was hitting 10 of 14 fairways on a day when in a single day rain led to most well-liked lies within the fairway and rain in the course of the spherical softened the course.

“I simply actually nervous about hitting the green on each gap,” he stated. “Kind of began off every gap as its personal match and was simply making an attempt to place it within the fairway as a result of after you have ball in hand, the greens are somewhat bit extra receptive than regular and you need to be aggressive.”

Joaquin Niemann and Matt Fitzpatrick tie for low spherical of the day

Niemann could have lastly found out East Lake Golf Membership.

The 23-year-old Chilean is making his third look on the Tour Championship. In his earlier eight rounds on the playoff finale, Niemann had damaged par simply as soon as. He’d completed T-27 in 2020 and 29th out of the 30-man area final 12 months.

On Thursday, he began the match at 2 below within the staggered-start scoring and improved to eight below by days finish with a blistering 6-under 64, which tied for the low spherical of the day with Fitzpatrick. Niemann capped off his first spherical by draining a 19-foot eagle putt on the final.

“It was two nice photographs,” he stated. “That putt was a bonus.”

Fitzpatrick was happy together with his 64.

“Bogey-free rounds are just about my favourite,” he stated. “My sport felt so much higher than it did final week. My coach flew in Monday after I advised him to come back on Sunday. So yeah, we acquired some good work on Tuesday and Wednesday and positively felt comfy on the market at the moment.”

Rory’s bizarre day

2022 Tour Championship

2022 Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy walks to the 18th inexperienced in the course of the first spherical of the TOUR Championship golf match. Obligatory Credit score: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports activities

Rory McIlroy skilled the weirdest spherical of his life on Thursday. The Northern Irishman’s opening tee shot sailed unnoticed of bounds and he made a triple bogey. He made two extra bogeys in his first 5 holes, but recovered to make an eagle at six and eight birdies to shoot 3-under 67 at East Lake Golf Membership.

After the eagle, McIlroy’s caddy Harry Diamond stated to him, “Rory, that is the weirdest six holes I’ve ever seen you play.”

In 773 rounds, McIlroy had by no means gone with out making a par within the first seven holes of a tour occasion. Happily, he sank a 6-foot par putt on the seventh.

McIlroy would go on to make simply 4 pars throughout a roller-coaster spherical that added as much as 67 and left him tied for sixth with Sungjae Im.

By day’s finish as Diamond walked up 18, Golf Channel’s John Wooden reported that he had up to date his evaluation: “Rory, that is the weirdest 18 holes I’ve ever seen you play.”

McIlroy started the primary spherical of the match at 4 below within the staggered-start scoring, nevertheless it did not take lengthy for him to look out of the match as he dropped again to even par.

“I acquired off to the worst begin potential,” he stated. “We acquired somewhat unlucky that we teed off in that massive downpour earlier within the day. I attempted to information kind of this little peeler into the green on the first and full double-crossed, physique stopped… there is a lesson in there someplace that even if you’re unsure about what you are making an attempt to do, kind of going full ship for me is the easiest way ahead.”

McIlroy was happy with the way in which he battled again, however he’ll begin the second spherical trailing by eight strokes and needing assist if he’ll win the FedEx Cup for an unprecedented third time.

“I believe tomorrow is a fairly pivotal day for the remainder of the sector simply to attempt to get somewhat nearer to the place Scottie is,” McIlroy stated.

Smart rises

2022 Tour Championship

2022 Tour Championship

Aaron Smart and his caddy Brian Dilley stroll as much as the first inexperienced in the course of the first spherical of the TOUR Championship golf match. Obligatory Credit score: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports activities

Aaron Smart is enjoying with home cash.

The 26-year-old Oregon Duck was the final man in to qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Membership on Sunday.

Smart declared East Lake his favourite golf course on the PGA Tour, and he proved why on Thursday, taking pictures a bogey-free 5-under 65.

Smart performed on his personal within the first group of the day as a consequence of Will Zalatoris withdrawing from the match with an damage, which meant there can be an odd variety of gamers for twosomes.

“I do not assume I’ve ever performed as a single in a match,” Smart stated. “It was totally different. It was fascinating to start out. I felt somewhat bizarre beginning off the spherical, however as soon as I settled in there strolling to 3 tees or so, felt fairly regular, truthfully felt sort of good as a result of I might go at my very own tempo and do what I wished.”

Getting into the week at No. 30, Smart began the match at even, 10 strokes behind FedEx Cup chief Scheffler within the staggered-scoring begin.

“It is simply a type of issues the place you nearly put it out of your head and also you simply go attempt to shoot one of the best rating you may. However sure, it is bizarre strolling up seven and I am 1 below on the spherical, and I search for and it says 10 below is main. I am like, properly, nobody is 10 below, however I get it,” Smart stated. “I would should play properly right here to have an opportunity. However who is aware of, at the moment was a superb begin to that, so hopefully it retains going that method.”

Final-place cash this week is $500,000, however Smart’s 65 propelled him right into a tie for 14th. There are nonetheless three extra days to go earlier than a FedEx Cup champion is topped and somebody goes residence $18 million richer in first-prize bonus cash. Smart’s plan is to maintain chipping away at Scheffler’s lead and see how worthwhile per week it may be.

Story initially appeared on GolfWeek

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