September 20, 2018

Tiger Tied For The Lead After Round 1 of the Tour Championship

ATLANTA, Ga. – For the second straight tournament, Tiger Woods is on top after the opening round.

Two weeks ago at the BMW Championship, he shot a blistering 62 for the solo lead. Thursday, Woods fashioned a 5-under-par 65 to earn a share of first at the PGA Tour’s regular-season ending Tour Championship at sun-baked East Lake Golf Club. He’s tied with Rickie Fowler in the last of four FedExCup Playoff events.

“This is by far better than the 62 at Aronimink,” said Woods. “Conditions were soft there. This is – it’s hard to get the ball close. There’s so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can’t get the ball close.”

It was the second consecutive 65 by Woods, who closed with the same score at the BMW Championship.

Competing at East Lake for the first time since 2013, it was his lowest total since posting a 64 in the second round of the 2007 Tour Championship, which he won. Thursday’s score marked the 30th time in his career he has co-led or led after the first round. Woods has prevailed 14 of 29 times.

His track record at the Tour Championship is strong. In addition to victories in 1999 and 2007, Woods has finished second four times and has eight top-10s.

With temperatures in the low 90’s and only a breath of wind, Woods three-putted the par-4 first hole for a bogey and had nine putts after four holes. Then he settled in.

Paired with Tommy Fleetwood, Woods birdied the fifth and sixth holes, canning a 15-foot slider at the latter, and turned in 1-under 34. On the back nine, he birdied 12 and 14, then saved his best for last.

At the par-5 18th, Woods blistered a 320-yard drive, knocked a 5-wood from 256 yards just outside 27 feet from the pin and poured in the eagle putt. His last eagle on the final hole came in the fourth round in 2013 at The Honda Classic.

“It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down the left,” Woods said. “But once it snagged it, it was going straight in.”

Woods was patient and conservative. He hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and used 28 putts. After a slow start on the greens, he rolled in 112 feet worth of putts with his old, reliable Scotty Cameron.

Of the four greens he missed, Woods saved par on all of them

While Woods needs a lot of help to capture his third FedExCup title, entering the week No. 20 in the point standings, winning would give him a chance. He was projected to place second after Thursday’s round with 54 holes remaining.

“It would enhance the year,” said Woods, when asked what a win would mean this week at the Tour Championship. “To be able to play golf again and earn my way back to this level is something that I was hoping I would do at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t know. And I’ve done it.”

In 17 PGA Tour starts this season, Woods has produced six top-10’s.

“In my eyes, the biggest win for him is just staying healthy and being out here all year,” said Fowler, who will join forces with Woods next week at the Ryder Cup. “Definitely happy for him.”

Woods and Fowler tee off in the final group on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.