Tour Championship 2017: Kyle Stanley Leads After Impressive Thursday

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Kyle Stanley of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the first round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 21, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Kyle Stanley shot a 64 to become the surprise leader through the first day at the Tour Championship.

The final individual tournament of the season features only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings following last week's BMW Championship. Everyone remaining is trying to get their hands on a share of the $8.75 million purse, while the top players are also trying to bring home the $10 million prize to the FedEx Cup winner.

It will be a competitive week, but Stanley is out to the best start with a two-stroke lead at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Here is a look at the leaderboard after Thursday's action:

1. Kyle Stanley (-6)

T2. Webb Simpson (-4)

T2. Daniel Berger (-4)

T2. Brooks Koepka (-4)

T2. Paul Casey (-4)

T6. Jordan Spieth (-3)

T6. Justin Thomas (-3)

T6. Jon Rahm (-3)

T6. Russell Henley (-3)

T6. Gary Woodland (-3)

Full results available at PGATour.com.

         

Stanley entered the week ranked No. 22 in the FedEx Cup standings, but he surprised just about everyone with his 64 in the first round.

He finished with seven birdies, including four straight from holes three through six. It was one of the best performances he has ever had to start a tournament, as Justin Ray of Golf Channel noted:

While he technically has a chance to take home the big prize at the end of the weekend, it would take quite a bit of help, as Golf Channel showed:

Stanley only qualified for two majors this year and failed to make the cut in either, but he is apparently saving his best for last.

Of course, almost half of the field remains in the hunt at just a few strokes off the lead.

Webb Simpson and Daniel Berger each used eagles to put themselves at four under as part of a four-way tie for second.

Russell Henley had one of the more interesting rounds in the field, as described by the PGA Tour:

Six birdies in a span of eight holes helped him card a 67 after a miserable start.

Still, all eyes were on the pairing of Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas, who are in first and second in the FedEx Cup standings, respectively. Each player controls their own destiny for the title with a win this weekend, while both are also competing for the Player of the Year award that could be decided with this event.

The talent and competitiveness led to some fun back-and-forth play between friends:

Spieth had a cleaner round with four birdies and just one bogey, while Thomas was more all over the place with six birdies and three bogeys. However, they each finished with a 67 and remain in a tie for sixth place, three strokes behind the leader.

Jon Rahm (three under), Dustin Johnson (one under) and Marc Leishman (one over) will all also win the FedEx Cup with a victory in Atlanta, but it will take a lot of work over the rest of the tournament.

There are no cuts for this event, which means even a terrible start gives all players a chance to come back over the next three days. With such a large purse for this tournament and the FedEx Cup title, there is certain to be quite a battle.

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