Tour Championship: Kyle Stanley nabs two-stroke lead

By Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 21, 2017 at 7:13 PM
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ATLANTA -- Kyle Stanley shot a 6-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Thursday and put himself in contention to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Stanley is playing in the Tour Championship for the first time and was seeded No. 22 in the 30-man field. He broke from the gate with four straight birdies starting at No. 3 and made the turn in 32. He had three birdies on the back nine for another 32. His only bogey came on the eighth hole.

Stanley holds a two-shot lead over four players who shot 66: U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.

"Today it was nice to get off to a pretty fast start, making four birdies in a row, and was able to make a few on the back nine," Stanley said. "Just tried to not complicate things, keep the ball in front of me and maybe make a few putts."

Tied for sixth with 67s are PGA champion Justin Thomas, Justin Spieth, Jon Rahm, Russell Henley and Gary Woodland.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Pat Perez and Justin Rose were tied for 11th at 68.

Spieth entered the tournament in first place in the FedEx Cup standings. Spieth was 2 under through eight, but went eight holes without a birdie before making a 14-footer at No. 16.

Stanley, a native of Washington who played at Clemson, turned professional in 2009, nearly got into the Tour Championship in 2012 but was No. 31 on the points list and missed by one spot.

He has two career victories and his win this summer at the Quicken Loans National propelled him into the playoffs, where he started in 17th place. Stanley finished in the middle of the pack at the first three playoff events, tying for 25th at the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championship, and tying for 47th at the BMW Championship.

In order for Stanley to win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus, he must win the Tour Championship and have many other dominoes fall into place.

"A whole lot of variables there," Stanley said. "Just control what I can control, I guess, and we'll see, but it would take a lot of luck on my part."

Twenty of the 30 players broke par on the warm day at East Lake. The course played 7,222 yards to par 70. The average score was 69.233.

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