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Golf: Patrick Cantlay leads Jon Rahm by two shots at Tour Championship

Patrick Cantlay, shown Aug. 19, 2021, started the first round of the Tour Championship with a two-shot lead over Tony Finau. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Patrick Cantlay, shown Aug. 19, 2021, started the first round of the Tour Championship with a two-shot lead over Tony Finau. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Patrick Cantlay started with a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and maintained that distance after the first round of the season-ending Tour Championship on Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

As the top seed in the FedEx Cup, Cantlay began the day with a two-stroke advantage. He opened with a 3-under 67 to end the first round with a two-shot lead over Jon Rahm.

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"I think being in the spot that I'm in, it would be easy to get ahead of yourself and easy to maybe stray from your game plan because you feel like you're ahead," said Cantlay, who moved to 13-under par. "And that's just not helpful, so I'm not going to do that."

Only four players had a better score than Cantlay to begin the PGA Tour finale. Rahm was among that group after he rattled off four birdies over his last seven holes for a 65. Rahm was at 11-under par.

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Bryson DeChambeau (69) and Harris English (66) were five shots behind the lead at 8-under par. Justin Thomas (67), Viktor Hovland (66) and Cameron Smith (68) ended the day at 7-under par.

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Finau, meanwhile, shot a 72 and went from two shots behind to seven back of the lead. Hideki Matsuyama also struggled in the opening round with a 77, sitting in 30th at 6-over par.

The final tournament of the PGA Tour season runs from Thursday through Sunday and airs on NBC and Golf Channel. The winner of the season-ending event receives a $15 million prize.

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Entering Thursday's opening round, Rahm and Cantlay were co-favorites to win the Tour Championship.

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