Blair leads by 2 at Tour Championship


Needing a big result this week to have any chance at the PGA Tour next season, Zac Blair got off to an ideal start at TPC Sawgrass. Here's how things look after the first round of the Tour Championship, where Blair holds a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Zac Blair (-7), Scott Pinckney (-5), Derek Fathauer (-5), Sung Joon Park (-5), Chad Collins (-5), Bronson La'Cassie (-5)

What it means: Blair missed the cut at each of the first three Finals events, but after a sizzling opening round he's all of a sudden in position to graduate to the PGA Tour next month. There's still plenty of holes left, though, and the chase pack includes Fathauer, who has had a strong Finals run, and Adam Hadwin, who won two weeks ago and sits three shots off the pace.

Round of the day: Blair made it around Dye's Valley Course without dropping a shot, carding seven birdies for a 63 despite reaching only 12 of 18 greens in regulation. His round included five birdies on the par 4s, including three circles across the first six holes of the day. Tour priority ranking entering season finale

Best of the rest: Fathauer is no stranger to fast starts in the Finals, having opened with 66, 66 and 63 each of the past three weeks. This time he shot a 5-under 65, a round that included seven birdies against two bogeys and one that was capped by birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to close out the day.

Biggest disappointment: Needing a strong week to return to the main circuit, former PGA Tour winner Kyle Stanley struggled to a 4-over 74. Stanley made just one birdie against two bogeys and a triple-bogey 6 on No. 2 that essentially derailed his round. He'll need to go low Friday to simply make the cut, and a demotion to the developmental circuit for the 2014-15 season appears increasingly likely.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Blair hasn't exactly been a model of consistency in the Finals, so it remains to be seen how he will cope with a lead as he looks to play his way onto the PGA Tour. While many have the pressure of trying to secure playing privileges for next year, some near the top of the leaderboard - Hadwin, Colt Knost (67) and Andrew Putnam (67) - are playing with added security knowing that their cards for next season are already locked up.