Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm share the lead after the first round of the PGA Tour Championship, but Rory McIlroy is lurking after a strong start.
Johnson, the FedEx Cup leader ahead of the season-ending event, carded a 3-under 67 at East Lake in Atlanta on Friday.
The American started the tournament atop the leaderboard at 10 under, but his lead is already gone. Johnson is joined at 13 under by Rahm, who opened with a 65 just days after his incredible win at the BMW Championship. Rahm beat Johnson in a thrilling playoff at Olympia Fields Country Club. The stars now are in place to battle for the $15 million first prize.
Johnson was even through 11 holes before making birdies at 12, 13 and 15. Rahm also found form on the back nine with four birdies in five holes beginning at 12.
Justin Thomas, third when the event started, is still there after a 4-under 66, and still two strokes back.
McIlroy, the defending FedEx Cup champion, produced the equal best round of the day to charge into contention. The Northern Irishman fired a 6-under 64 that included three straight birdies to finish as he moved into 9 under for the tournament.
The other player to shoot 64 was Abraham Ancer, who climbed into 7 under and outright fifth place.
McIlroy admitted he was surprised to make such a good start just days after becoming a father. He welcomed the arrival of his first child with his wife, Erica; daughter Poppy was born Monday.
“It just shows you golf is such a mental game, and if you come in with low expectations, that’s always how I’ve played well” he said.
“Whether I don’t feel like my game is in a good place or I’m not the favorite coming into a tournament, all that stuff, I feel like that’s when I usually play my best and I can play with a bit of freedom, and that’s what I did.”
McIlroy said he had other things on his mind on Friday.
“It’s like every three hours she [Poppy] is supposed to be fed, so I’m like, OK, there’s a feeding coming up,” he said. “But like it’s natural. It’s natural that in between shots you think about other things, and obviously my mind has been very much on what’s going on at home.
“But it is nice to have this little four or five hours to myself to concentrate on my game and sort of get into this stuff.”