Woods made an eagle putt from just over 25 feet on the par-5 18th hole for a 5-under 65 and a share of the lead Thursday with Rickie Fowler in the Tour Championship. Fowler and Woods both followed up terrific showings at the BMW Championship two weeks ago with equally strong first rounds on what Fowler called "a little tougher golf course" at East Lake.
Woods is the only player to win the FedEx Cup twice (2007, '09), and also has four runner-up finishes at East Lake.
Woods has said getting to the Tour Championship after recovering from a fourth back surgery makes this year successful even without a victory.
Bryson DeChambeau tops the standings after winning the first two Play-Off events, while Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas the others who can guarantee the FedExCup trophy with a win this week. The 10 place finisher will receive $500,000.
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Woods, who owns two Tour Championship titles and the tournament's scoring record (257), opened his round with a bogey. I don't know if we'll get that this week, but I'm excited to watch McIlroy, who ranked in the top five in the field in approach shots on Thursday, try to snag a FedEx Cup from the No. 17 slot in the field.
"No, it's been great being grouped with Tiger and I can not say enough how good it is to see him back being competitive". With that being said, Woods has already proven that he can hang on the weekend this year.
DeChambeau will be aiming to become the first top seed going into the East Lake event to win the FedExCup since Tiger Woods in 2009.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy is a shot further back, while English duo Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood are two under and one under respectively. The current world No. 8 will next week also celebrate making his Ryder Cup debut and DeChambeau could be partnering Woods in Versailles.
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"I don't want to say the difference has been night and day, but it's been really good, " said Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava.
But the unorthodox Californian impressed on the back nine, regaining his composure and posting three birdies to get to 1-over and, while less than pleased to be T21 in a 30-player field, will take some confidence from his finish.
And quite looking forward to playing in the final pairing Friday with Woods. "He's missed a few fairways, but everyone is going to do that". "That's kind of nice that they're coming out and supporting this event and supporting me, as well".
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