Kyle Stanley and Jordan Spieth got off to strong starts in the Tour Championship with entirely different goals in mind.
Stanley ran off four straight birdies on the front nine, one of them from 40 feet, and then added two more late in his round on a steamy Thursday afternoon at East Lake in Atlanta for a 6-under 64. In his Tour Championship debut, he had a two-shot lead over a group that included U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.
Spieth had a 67, and while it was a grind, he had no gripes about that.
Canadian Adam Hadwin shot a 1-over 71 on Thursday, putting him in a tie for 21st place. The 29-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C. recorded three birdies and four bogeys in the opening round.
Hadwin entered the Tour Championship as the No. 21 seed in the Fed Ex Cup standings.
Spieth is the No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup, and no one from the top five had a lower score. That kept Spieth on track in his bid to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time winners of the $10 million US bonus since the FedEx Cup began in 2007.
The top five seeds only have to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup, though there have been three occasions where someone else won at East Lake and walked away with golf's biggest payoff when the leading players faltered.
That explains why Spieth spent more time looking at the leaderboard than he typically does in the opening round.
"I don't know the scenarios, so it really doesn't make a difference for me to watch the scoreboard other than to figure out how to get to the leaders," he said. "It's a weird scenario teeing off last when it's the first round and there's only 30 guys."
And it didn't help to see what Stanley was doing.
Stanley, the No. 22 seed and a long shot for the FedEx Cup, thought East Lake was plenty tough during the practice rounds. He just didn't make it look that way, stuffing a wedge into 2 feet on No. 3 to start his run of four straight birdies.
No good game plan on this course
He extended his lead by hitting a tee shot over the water to a front pin on the nervy par-3 15th and making his 18-foot birdie, and then holing a 10-foot birdie on the 16th.
"I don't have too good of a game plan for this golf course seeing it for the first time," Stanley said. "But I felt like maybe that would be key, just hitting a lot of fairways and giving myself chances on second shots."
Stanley isn't too wrapped up about the $10 million bonus, though Bill Haas won it in 2011 as the No. 25 seed.
He was two shots ahead of Koepka — who played bogey-free — Webb Simpson, Paul Casey and Daniel Berger, who made eagle on the final hole.
Spieth was among five players at 67 that included two other top seeds, Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Jon Rahm (No. 5). Rahm made eagle on the par-5 sixth, and he nearly ended his round with another eagle.