Monday, August 13, 2018

Spieth starts strong at Tour Championship

ATLANTA — Kyle Stanley and Jordan Spieth got off to strong starts in the Tour Championship with different goals in mind.

Stanley had four straight birdies on the front nine, one from 40 feet, then added two more late on a steamy Thursday at East Lake for 6-under 64. In his Tour Championship debut, he had a two-shot lead over a group that included U.S. Open champion and former FSU standout Brooks Koepka.

Spieth had 67, and while it was a grind, he had no gripes about it.

He's the No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup, and no one from the top five had a lower score. That kept Spieth on track in his bid to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time winners of the $10 million bonus since the Cup began in 2007.

The top five seeds only have to win the PGA Tour Championship to claim the Cup, though there have been three occasions where someone else won at East Lake and took golf's biggest payoff when the leading players faltered.

That explains why Spieth spent more time looking at the leaderboard than he typically does in the opening round.

"I don't know the scenarios, so it really doesn't make a difference for me to watch the scoreboard other than to figure out how to get to the leaders," he said. "It's a weird scenario teeing off last when it's the first round and there's only 30 guys."

Stanley, the No. 22 seed and a long shot for the Cup, thought East Lake was plenty tough during the practice rounds. "I don't have too good of a game plan for this course seeing it for the first time," he said. "But I felt like maybe that would be key, just hitting a lot of fairways and giving myself chances on second shots."

Stanley isn't too wrapped up about the $10 million bonus, though Bill Haas won it in 2011 as the No. 25 seed.

Stanley was two ahead of Koepka, another former FSU standout Daniel Berger, Webb Simpson and Paul Casey. Spieth was among five at 67 that included two other top seeds, Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Jon Rahm (No. 5).