ATLANTA – Hideki Matsuyama got off to a solid start at the season-ending Tour Championship on Thursday to sit just three shots behind a trio of Americans that share the lead after the first day of play.
Matsuyama opened his round at 3-under 66 in the lucrative season-ending tournament in which players’ FedEx Cup ranking determines their starting score.
American points leader Justin Thomas started at 10-under but could only shoot even-par to enter the clubhouse in a three-way tie for the lead along with Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, who started at 4-under and 6-under, respectively.
Thomas, who won last week’s BMW Championship to claim the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings, birdied the last hole to shoot 70 and finish even while Schauffele shot the day’s low score of 64 and world No. 1. Koepka posted a 67.
Matsuyama carded two bogeys against six birdies, with one putt on the seventh almost changing that equation.
He slow-rolled a downhill birdie effort only to see the ball hang on the edge of the cup.
However, after a wait of almost 20 seconds, the ball incredibly dropped in to bring a roar from the crowd and a smile to Matsuyama’s face.
“It was the first time I got lucky like that,” Matsuyama said.
Only the top 30 players on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list qualified to play in the Tour Championship. The winner at East Lake Golf Club receives a $15 million bonus as FedEx Cup champion out of the $60 million FedEx Cup prize money pool.