Collin Morikawa fired a career-best, 9-under-par 61 to forge a tie for the lead with Viktor Hovland and Keegan Bradley in the first round of the Tour Championship on Thursday in Atlanta.
The three-way lead was made possible by a late triple bogey from Scottie Scheffler, who had started the week in first place at 10 under through the season finale’s staggered start based on FedEx Cup points.
Hovland, the rising star from Norway, began in second and shot a 68, while Bradley made seven birdies and no bogeys for a 63 at East Lake Golf Club. Scheffler’s 71 left him in fourth at 9 under.
Morikawa was 24th in FedEx Cup points and began Thursday at 1 under. He easily eagled the par-5 sixth hole after his second shot rolled to inside 4 feet of the pin.
Morikawa birdied each of his final three holes, including an up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 18th hole. He was one shot off Zach Johnson’s course record of 60.
Scheffler took the lead as low as 13 under thanks to three birdies in his first six holes. But he had three-putt bogeys at Nos. 8 and 11, and he was just 11 under when he stepped to the tee at the par-3 15th.
After pulling his 5-iron off the tee far left and into the water hazard, Scheffler had to take a drop and reached the green in three. He then three-putted again from inside 16 feet, lipping out a 4-footer for double bogey.
Morikawa’s playing partner Thursday, Adam Schenk, made a stellar Tour Championship debut by shooting a bogey-free 63 to move up to 8 under. He’s tied for fifth with Russell Henley (65).
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reportedly injured his lower back earlier this week and played through the pain to shoot an even-par 70, winding up back where he started the tournament at 7 under. He was tied with Jon Rahm of Spain (69) and Matt Fitzpatrick of England (67).
McIlroy went out in 2-over 37 before getting his first birdie of the day at the par-4 10th when his approach shot stopped 2 feet from the cup. He gave the stroke back with a bogey on the next hole.
He hit a groove late, birdieing Nos. 13, 15 and 16. But his third shot at No. 18 sprayed from the rough to a bunker, and he went on to finish with a bogey.
Tyrrell Hatton of England (64), Xander Schauffele (67), Wyndham Clark (68) and Brian Harman (68) are tied for 10th at 6 under.
—Field Level Media
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