By Thomas Dodd
- Fedex Cup race leader Dustin Jonhson leads after opening round of season-ending Tour Championship
- US Open winner Johnson shoots 66 at East Lake to join Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Chappell at the top of the leaderboard
- Only European Ryder Cup player in field Rory Mcilroy shoots 68, along with defending champion Jordan Spieth
EAST LAKE GOLF CLUB, ATLANTA, GEORGIA USA- Points leader Dustin Johnson put himself in perfect position to win the Fedex Cup by ending the first round of the season-ending TOUR Championship in a tie for the lead.
US Open champion Johnson, who also won the last play-off event two weeks ago, shares the 18-hold lead with compatriot Kevin Chappell and Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama.
Victory at East Lake for Johnson on Sunday evening would see the world number two take home the $10million Fedex Cup purse to go with the maiden major title he won at Oakmont in June earlier this year.
Four-under through 12 holes, the American dropped his only shot of the day at the par-three 13th before birdieing the last for a round of 66.
Matsuyama also birdied the par-five 18th, while Chappell came home in level par after a bogey-free front nine of 31.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, seeking to become the first man to retain the title since the format was introduced in 2007, shot 68 to sit in a tie for seventh alongside Rory McIlroy and England’s Paul Casey.
World number one Jason Day went one better with a 67, while Adam Scott – third in the points entering the week- faded towards the end to shoot one-under par on the always testing lay-out at East Lake Country Club.
Patrick Reed, who along with Johnson, Day, Scott and Casey can win the Fedex Cup with a win this week regardless of other results, struggled to re-capture the form that saw him win the opening play-off event in New York a few weeks ago and came home with a 73.
Crowd-pleaser and 2009 TOUR Championship winner Phil Mickelson sunk a 94-foot birdie putt on the opening hole but went backwards quickly by dropping six shots in a three hole stretch on the front nine.
Lefty steadied the ship thereafter, but eventually signed for four-over par 74.
This season’s curtain-closer is taking place just a week before the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in Minnesota and the majority of this week’s field of 30 are Americans hoping to be Davis Love III‘s final wildcard pick for the competition on Monday.
In total, six of Love’s current team off 11 are competing in Atlanta, with Mcilroy the sole representative from Team Europe.
The event itself is also slightly re-structured for 2016, with the players taking on the par-70 layout the opposite way round for the first time.
TOUR Championship Leaderboard, after Round 1 (East Lake Golf Club, Par 70)
*US Unless stated
-4 Kevin Chappell, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Dustin Johnson
-3 Kevin Kisner, Si Woo Kim (KOR), Jason Day (AUS)
-2 Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcilroy (NIR), Paul Casey (ENG)
+3 Russell Knox (SCO)
+4 Phil Mickelson
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