1 of 5 | Collin Morikawa fired a 9-under 71 through his first 18 holes at the 2023 Tour Championship on Thursday in Atlanta. File Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Collin Morikawa was coy with reporters, not revealing how he fixed his swing en route to a first-round 61 at the 2023 Tour Championship. He now is tie for first place ahead of the second round Friday in Atlanta.
Morikawa's 9-under was the best score of the opening round Thursday at East Lake Golf Club. Because of the FedEx Cup playoffs finale's staggered scoring system, which includes most players starting under par, he is in a three-way tie for first place with Keegan Bradley and Viktor Hovland at 10-under.
"The goal is to keep pushing and not let my foot off the gas," Morikawa told reporters. "The way [Thursday] felt, I wish I could go play another 18 [immediately].
"I know what I did and I'm going to try to keep those baselines and checkpoints to make sure when we start out there [Friday], we can continue that same trend."
Morikawa started the tournament at 1-under. He birdied Nos. 1 and 5 and eagled 6 to card a 4-under 31 at the turn. He sank five more birdies, including on each of his final three holes of the back nine.
"I got a lucky break on No. 5," Morikawa said. "I pulled a drive left, hit a tree, ended up in a fairway, and made birdie. That's kind of the momentum stuff that I just haven't seen all year. I'm just figuring out a way to keep that."
Morikawa said he discovered a fix to his swing, which led to the success, this week while preparing for the playoff finale.
"We found it on Tuesday and I'm not going to tell you," Morikawa said. "It's all a lot in the setup. You can look at photos and pictures. A lot of it has to do with basic setup. It always is for 99% of us. We've all played great golf. It's in there.
"It's just about remembering what was a little bit better in the past."
Bradley, who started at 3-under, was 7-under through his first 18 holes. Hovland, who started at 8-under, was 2-under Thursday in Atlanta.
Tour Championship favorite Scottie Scheffler, who started with a lead at 10-under, was 1-over and is in fourth place at 9-under for the tournament.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy started at 7-under and was even par in the first round. He is tied for seventh with Matt Fitzpatrick and Jon Rahm. Rahm, who started at 6-under, carded a 1-under 69.
"I'm pretty frustrated with how I played," Scheffler said. "I got off to a pretty good start and then I had a few 3-putts, which was frustrating, and a bad swing on No. 15. ... It's a little bit of a blessing to have a bad day and still be in the tournament."
The second round of the Tour Championship was to tee off at 11:26 a.m. EDT Friday at East Lake. Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton will tee off at 1:16 p.m. on No. 1. McIlroy and Fitzpatrick will follow 11 minutes later.
Scheffler and Hovland will tee off at 1:49 p.m. Morikawa and Bradley will start at 2 p.m., the final tee time of the second round.
Live TV coverage will air from 1 to 6 p.m. on NBC's Golf Channel.