Debby Wong
# Money Money Money
Spieth remains in the hunt for $10m bonus after solid start at the Tour Championship
The world number two is in a tie for sixth place alongside Justin Thomas with Kyle Stanley in the lead.

KYLE STANLEY GOT off to a hot start and outshone the big guns to lead after the opening round of the Tour Championship Thursday but Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are poised to strike.

Should Spieth emerge victorious from the competition in Atlanta, he will pocket a $10m bonus for the second time in his career.

And following his opening round of three under 67, the world number two looks to be in a strong position to chase that prize.

Stanley shot a six-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead at East Lake Golf Club and put himself in contention to win the PGA Tour’s four tournament playoff series.

American Stanley holds a two-shot lead over four players who shot 66, comprising US Open champion Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, England’s Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.

Spieth and PGA champion Thomas are tied for sixth with 67s along with Spain’s Jon Rahm, Russell Henley and Gary Woodland.

Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Pat Perez and Justin Rose were tied for 11th at 68.

Stanley is playing in the Tour Championship for the first time and was seeded No. 22 in the 30-man field.

He charged out of the gate with four straight birdies starting at No. 3 and made the turn in 32. He had three birdies on the back nine for another 32. His only mishap came on the eighth hole where he posted a bogey.

“Today it was nice to get off to a pretty fast start, making four birdies in a row, and was able to make a few on the back nine,” Stanley said. “Just tried to not complicate things, keep the ball in front of me and maybe make a few putts.”

For Stanley to win the FedEx Cup playoffs and the $10 million bonus, he must win the Tour Championship and have many other dominos fall into place.

There’s no guesswork involved with Spieth, the No. 1 seed. If he wins the tournament, he wins the FedEx Cup, something he did in 2015. He would join Tiger Woods as the only two-time winner.

Spieth entered the tournament in first place in the FedEx Cup standings. Spieth was two under through eight, but went eight holes without a birdie before making a 14-footer at No. 16.

“I get done and look back and I’m surprised we’re at three under,” Spieth said. “Things were off at different times and things were certainly on at different times that pieced this round together and kind of helped what was an interesting day to be still in this golf tournament.”

Spieth said he will try not to watch the scoreboard so much in round two.

“Maybe I got caught up a little bit in the scoreboard today,” Spieth said. “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.”

The 24-year-old Thomas, who has won five times in 2017, had birdies on four of six holes beginning at the par-four No. 7 and then capped his round with a birdie on 18, his sixth of the day.

Twenty of the 30 players broke par on the warm day at the par-70 East Lake course.

Additional reporting by Sinéad Farrell

© – AFP 2017

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