Scottie Scheffler took care of his day one business at the Tour Championship Thursday and upped his lead at the Tour Championship to five shots.
Early rain hammered East Lake and made conditions tricky. It was wet enough to put the field in a lift-clean-place mode and that put even more emphasis on finding the fairways in this FedEx Cup finale.
Scheffler got the start he was looking for when he birdied the third then ran in a 17-footer for eagle at the sixth hole. He hit it inside eight feet at the seventh but saw his birdie effort lip-out then he caught another lip at the eighth from insider five feet. He was looking like he wanted to run away from the rest but a missed green and a wayward shot from a wet greenside bunker at the ninth resulted in his only bogey of the day.
The world’s No. 1 closed out his round in style with birdies on the final three holes and that added up to a five-under par 65. Add that to his starting 10-under and he was 15-under, five clear of Xander Schauffele, who once again performed well on this East Lake track.
Scheffler never paid any attention to the scoreboard or his 10-under starting point. “I kinda stayed in my own little world today,” he said after the hot finish. “A five-shot lead, yeah, but it’s only day one.”
Schauffele had a clean, bogey-free card. “If you kept the ball in the fairway, ball in hand, you could take advantage of the golf course,” Schauffele said. “It’s just day one — I’m trying to give myself a chance on Sunday.”
Schauffle’s 66 along with his six-under par starting point, made him the only other player in double figures (10-under).
Best rounds of the day were 64s by U.S. Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick and Joaquin Niemann. Fitzpatrick’s round got him to nine-under by himself. Niemann was at eight-under along with defending FedEx Cup champ Patrick Cantlay. It wasn’t a great day for Cantlay. He struggled most of the round but at the 18th hole, his second stopped just 22 feet from the hole and he got perfect Reed from Scheffler’s first putt. He holed the eagle attempt to get back to even par for the day and eight-under, where he started.
Craziest round of the day belonged to Rory McIlroy. Rory hit his opening tee shot out-of-bounds left and ended up with a triple-bogey seven to start his day. A bogey at the second put him four-over after just two holes and the next seven were pretty bizarre. Rory, starting at the third, went birdie-bogey-birdie-eagle-par-birdie-bogey and was one-over at the turn. Rory got it going on the back nine and played the last six holes in four-under par and his 67 got him to seven-under with Sungjae Im (67) and Cam Smith (67).
Aaron Wise Cruises Solo, Shoots 65:
With Will Zalatoris out, the field at the Tour Championship is down to 29 and Aaron Wise played by himself on Thursday. Wise cruised around in three hours and turned in a cool 65.
“It was different. It was interesting to start,” Wise said. “I felt a little weird starting off the round, but once I settled in there walking to three tee or so, felt pretty normal, honestly felt kind of nice because I could go at my own pace and do what I wanted.
“But definitely pros and cons to it because you don’t get to see anyone else’s shots, you don’t get to see anyone else’s putts or anything like that. Luckily I was having a good day, and just kind of stayed in my groove and stayed to myself, and it worked out well.”
Scheffler Reveals “Strange” Discomfort At Open Championship:
Maybe this one goes down as too much information but world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler talked about a “derriere” problem he experienced at St. Andrews.
“Probably TMI, but I had what’s called a pilonidal infection. It’s an infection at the top of your butt crack. You can look it up,” Scheffler explained. “It was really hard for me to bend down. It was really hard for me to make a swing on Sunday. Walking was actually extremely difficult.”
Scheffler had what is medically called a pilonidal cyst, which normally occurs when hair punctures the skin and then becomes embedded. In Scheffler’s case, he had a member of the DP World Tour medical team perform a procedure that relieved the pressure following his final round in Scotland and he said he needed about a week before the pain subsided.
“I don’t know if any of you have ever had something like that, but if you talk to someone that does, it is excruciatingly painful,” he said. “It was brutal.”
David Lingmerth Leads At Nationwide Childrens:
Columbus, Ohio has fond memories for David Lingmerth. He won his only PGA Tour event at the 2015 Memorial Championship. On Thursday he put a nine-under par 62 on the scoreboard at Ohio State University’s Scarlet course and that gave him a three-shot lead at the Nationwide Childrens Hospital Championship.
This is the second stop on the Korn Ferry Tour finals and Lingmerth is looking to regain his Tour card. He was three clear of Aaron Baddeley, Jared Wolfe and Brandon Hagy. He had nine birdies on his card.