FedEx Cup leader Patrick Cantlay ended the opening round of the Tour Championship two shots clear of world number one Jon Rahm in the season finale.
Cantlay arrived at East Lake top of the FedEx Cup standings following his thrilling six-hole BMW Championship play-off victory against Bryson DeChambeau last week.
Under the new FedEx Cup play-off format, Cantlay’s third PGA Tour title of the season ensured he started the 30-man Tour Championship with a two-stroke advantage at 10 under, ahead of Tony Finau.
Cantlay maintained that lead on Thursday thanks to a three-under-par 67 at the lucrative season-ending event in Atlanta, Georgia.
The American golfer birdied the last to finish with four in total for the day, having dropped a shot at the fifth during his front nine.
FedEx Cup hopeful Rahm matched the round of the day with his five-under-par 65 – the Spanish star recording birdies at his final two holes to earn outright second position, ahead of Harris English (66) and DeChambeau (69) at eight under.
English had a day to remember after his hole-in-one at the par-three 15th hole, the American’s second on the PGA Tour and first since 2018.
With his ace-birdie-birdie run from the 15th to 17th, English – seventh in the rankings – became the first player to cover that stretch of three holes in four-under par in a round at East Lake during the Tour Championship.
DeChambeau teed off in third position, three strokes adrift of Cantlay, and the 2020 U.S. Open champion slipped five shots back after mixing five birdies with four bogeys.
Viktor Hovland (66), Cameron Smith (68) and 2017 FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas (67) are on seven under, and six strokes off the pace, a shot better off than Kevin Na (66) and Finau (72).
Defending FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Dustin Johnson ended the first day at five under following his opening-round 68, alongside Brooks Koepka (67), 2015 FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth (69), Abraham Ancer (69), Louis Oosthuizen (68), Jason Kokrak (67) and Billy Horschel (65).
Rory McIlroy – a two-time FedEx Cup and Tour championship winner – made a hot start but faded in a two-under-par-round of 68.
McIlroy was flawless with three birdies on the front nine, however, three bogeys to go with two birdies after the turn left the former world number one nine strokes behind Cantlay.