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Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel (pictured by Getty Images), currently Nos. 1 and 2 in the FedExCup, respectively, carded bogey-free 66s Thursday to share the lead at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. They were the only two players without a bogey on day one.
The 29-player TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola is the culmination of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season and the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs. The road to the TOUR Championship began with the top 125 players qualifying for The Barclays (won by Hunter Mahan), followed by the top 100 players at the Deutsche Bank Championship (won by Chris Kirk) and the top 70 players at the BMW Championship (won by Billy Horschel).
The top-five players in the FedExCup standings entering the TOUR Championship control their own destiny
and will win the FedExCup title should they go on to victory at East Lake.
FEC      Name             Score  Position  FedExCup Projection
1          Chris Kirk        66         T1            1
2          Billy Horschel  66         T1            2
3          Bubba Watson 67        T3            3
4          Rory McIlroy    69        T11          4
5          Hunter Mahan 74        T27           6
A points reset took place following the BMW Championship giving all 29 players in the field at the TOUR Championship a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup.
Chris Kirk – No. 1 in the FedExCup, 4-under 66
FedExCup leader Chris Kirk posted a bogey-free 66 in his first start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a list of players who have won the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in their first appearance: Chad Campbell (2003), Bart Bryant (2005), Bill Haas (2011) and Henrik Stenson (2013).
Kirk’s round at a glance: 9 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 3 of 3 sand saves, 26 putts.
Kirk is seeking to join Vijay Singh (2008) and Henrik Stenson (2013) as the only players to win the Deutsche Bank Championship and FedExCup in the same season.
Kirk has 25 made cuts in 27 starts this season, with wins at The McGladrey Classic and Deutsche Bank Championship.
This marks the second time Kirk has held the first-round lead on the PGA TOUR. Earlier this season he led after day one at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions en route to a T16 finish.
Billy Horschel – No. 2 in the FedExCup, 4-under 66
Billy Horschel opened his second TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with a 4-under 66 (finished T7 in 2013) to share the lead with Chris Kirk. It marks the first time on the PGA TOUR that he has held the first-round lead/co-lead.
R1 at a glance: 6 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens, 30 putts.
Horschel edged Bubba Watson by two strokes to win last week’s BMW Championship, his second PGA TOUR victory (2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans). He is seeking to join Tiger Woods (2007 and 2009) as the only players to win the BMW Championship and the FedExCup in the same season.
Horschel’s finishes in the FedExCup: 2013 (16th), 2012 (143rd), 2011 (170th).
Horschel’s win last week was his third top-10 finish in seven FedExCup Playoffs starts. Here are the others: 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship (T2), 2013 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (T7).
In the 2013-2014 PGA TOUR Season, Horschel has collected top-10 finishes at the BMW Championship (Won), Hyundai Tournament of Champions (T6), FedEx St. Jude Classic (T6) and Deutsche Bank Championship (T2).
Horschel has shown to be a momentum player. His victory at the BMW Championship came one week after a T2 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Below are his previous four starts prior to winning his first TOUR event at the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans:
T2         Shell Houston Open
T3         Valero Texas Open
T9         RBC Heritage
Won     Zurich Classic of New Orleans
First-Round Leader Statistics
The first-round leader/co-leader has won 11 of 27 times at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. The last was Henrik Stenson in 2013.
The first-round leader/co-leader has won 10 of 43 stroke-play events this season, most recently Camilo Villegas at the Wyndham Championship.
Bubba Watson – No. 3 in the FedExCup, 3-under 67
Bubba Watson opened with a 3-under 67 in his fifth start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (30-2008, T17-2010, T23-2011, T5-2012). Watson’s best round at East Lake was a second-round 6-under 64 in 2011.
By entering the week No. 3 in the FedExCup, a win this week would guarantee Watson the 2014 FedExCup. He is currently projected to retain his No. 3 spot in the standings. Here’s a look at Watson’s year-by-year finishes in the season-long competition: 2007 (37), 2008 (30), 2009 (53), 2010 (22), 2011 (26), 2012 (13), 2013 (37).
Watson has made the cut in 17 of 20 starts this season, with victories at the Northern Trust Open and Masters Tournament.
Jim Furyk – No. 7 in the FedExCup, 3-under 67
Making his 16th start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (trailing only Phil Mickelson’s 17), Jim Furyk opened with a 3-under 67 Thursday at East Lake. It marked Furyk’s 93rd par-or-better round in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs, with Phil Mickelson next on the list with 82.
Furyk owns six top-5 finishes this season, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Wells Fargo Championship, THE PLAYERS Championship and the RBC Canadian Open.
Furyk, winner of the 2010 FedExCup, is currently No. 7 in the FedExCup standings. Here’s a look at his year-by-year finishes in the competition: 2007 (11), 2008 (5), 2009 (4), 2010 (1), 2011 (36), 2012 (15), 2013 (14).
Jason Day – No. 10 in the FedExCup, 3-under 67
In his fourth start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Jason Day carded a 3-under 67, equaling his best round at East Lake (R1/2011, R2/2011, R4/2013).
Day entered the week No. 10 in the FedExCup and is currently projected No. 9. Here’s a look at his year-by-year finishes in the FedExCup: 2008 (83), 2009 (48), 2010 (8), 2011 (12), 2012 (87), 2013 (17).
Making his 151st PGA TOUR start, Day is seeking his third victory (2010 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship, 2014 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship).
Day has made the cut in 13 of 14 starts this season, with his victory at the Accenture Match Play Championship one of five top-10 finishes.
Patrick Reed – No. 18 in the FedExCup, 3-under 67
In his first-ever career start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Patrick Reed carded a 3-under 67 to sit one stroke behind Kirk and Horschel after 18 holes.
Reed entered the week No. 18 in the FedExCup and is currently projected No. 11. In his rookie season of 2013, he finished No. 54 in the season-long competition.
Reed has made the cut in 19 of 27 starts this season, with wins at the Humana Challenge and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. The first of his three TOUR wins came at the 2013 Wyndham Championship.
Hunter Mahan – No. 5 in the FedExCup, 4-over 74
Hunter Mahan struggled to a 4-over 74 in his bid to join Vijay Singh (2008) as the only players to win The Barclays and FedExCup in the same season.
Mahan is making eighth start at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, with a runner-up finish in 2011 his best outing. He is the only player who has never missed a start in the FedExCup Playoffs (32 overall).
Here’s a look at his year-by-year finishes in the FedExCup: 2007 (15), 2008 (18), 2009 (27), 2010 (18), 2011 (7), 2012 (19), 2013 (20).
First Timers at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola
Nine players are making their first-ever trip to the FedExCup finale this week: Chris Kirk (T1), Patrick Reed (T3), Cameron Tringale (T7), Russell Henley (T16), Morgan Hoffmann (T16), Brendon Todd (T16), Hideki Matsuyama (T20), Jimmy Walker (T25) and Martin Kaymer (T25).
Morgan Hoffmann, No. 21 in the FedExCup, even-par 70
Seven players entered The Barclays ranked No. 101 – 125 in the FedExCup and played their way into the Deutsche Bank Championship. Morgan Hoffmann, who began the Playoffs No. 124 in the standings, was the only player among that group to advance to the BMW Championship. He finished third at Cherry Hills last week to move to No. 21 in the FedExCup, once again staving off elimination in the Playoffs. He opened Thursday with an even-par 70 to sit T16.
During the last six years (2009-2014) with the current FedExCup points system, a total of 15 players have played their way into the top 30 at the BMW Championship, with Hoffmann and Ryan Palmer the latest to do so.
In the history of the FedExCup Playoffs only three players have advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola after starting the Playoffs outside of the cut line to make the second Playoffs event, with Hoffmann the latest to perform the feat. In 2009, Slocum began the Playoffs at No. 124 before winning The Barclays and advancing to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. In 2010, Kevin Streelman began the Playoffs at No. 102 in the FedExCup standings and advanced to Atlanta.
Additional Player Notes
Rory McIlroy opened with a 1-under 69. He is currently projected to retain his No. 4 spot in the FedExCup. McIlroy has nine career wins, including three straight starts in July-August (The Open Championship, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship).
Earlier this week, Brendon Todd and Danny Shoy (president of the East Lake Foundation) toured the new Charles R. Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy.  During the visit, Todd pledged to donate $500 to the East Lake Foundation for each birdie he makes at this week’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. En route to a first-round even-par 70, he carded three birdies ($1,500).
Miscellaneous Notes
Moved into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola following the BMW Championship:
FEC Rank  Player                    TOUR Champ R1 Projected FEC Rank
No. 21        Morgan Hoffmann   70 (T16)                No. 22
No. 23        Ryan Palmer           69 (T11)                No. 20
Jim Furyk owns the most top-10 finishes in the FedExCup Playoffs. Of the top five players with the most top 10s in the Playoffs, he is the only one who advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Following a first-round 3-under 67, he is currently T3:
Name Top 10s
Jim Furyk 14
Steve Stricker 13
Camilo Villegas 10
Phil Mickelson 10
Tiger Woods 10
Most rounds in the 60s in the Playoffs: 2007 200809 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
Name Sub-70s
Steve Stricker 62
Jim Furyk 61
Adam Scott 60
Most rounds at par or better in the Playoffs: 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
Name Par-or-Better
Jim Furyk 94
Phil Mickelson 82
Steve Stricker 80
Bubba Watson 77
Hunter Mahan 75
Zach Johnson 74
Sergio Garcia 74
Past FedExCup Champions Remaining in 2014 FedExCup Playoffs
Player     Year Won  Current FEC/projected  TOUR Champ R1
Jim Furyk  2010        No. 8/No. 5                    67 (T3)
Bill Haas   2011        No. 17/No. 13                68 (T7)
Four of the six winners on the fall segment of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Season are currently inside the top 30 in the FedExCup: Chris Kirk (1st); Jimmy Walker (6th); Webb Simpson (22nd); and Dustin Johnson (30th).
There have been eight wins on the PGA TOUR this season by a player hailing from the University of Georgia; Chris Kirk (2), Bubba Watson (2), Russell Henley, Harris English, Brendon Todd and Brian Harman. In addition, Georgia Tech has produced two winners (Matt Kuchar and Chesson Hadley), while Augusta State produced two-time winner Patrick Reed (Reed also attended the University of Georgia prior to transferring to Augusta State).
There are three past champions of the TOUR Championship in the field this week: Bill Haas (2011; currently T7), Jim Furyk (2010; currently T3), Adam Scott (2006; currently T11).
Scoring Averages for the par-70 East Lake Golf Club:
                 Front 9  Back 9   Total       Cumulative
Thursday  35.000   34.828     69.828     —
Bogey-free rounds:
R1 – Chris Kirk (66), Billy Horschel (66)
Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 88. Winds WSW 7-12 mph.
Due to expected afternoon weather issues, second-round tee times will run from 8:45 – 11:00 a.m. with twosomes off the first tee. Television coverage will be live on the Golf Channel from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
First-Round Leaderboard
Chris Kirk  66 (-4)
Billy Horschel  66 (-4)
Patrick Reed 67 (-3)
Jason Day 67 (-3)
Jim Furyk  67 (-3)
Bubba Watson  67 (-3)
Source: PGA Tour

Author

Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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