ATLANTA – It was probably not the start everyone imagined from Rory McIlroy, but given the world No. 1’s unfamiliarity with East Lake, his opening 69 on Thursday at the Tour Championship will not spoil dinner.
McIlroy – who has won three of his last four starts and back-to-back playoff events – is one of seven players making his debut at East Lake this week and only first-timers Scott Piercy (3 under and tied for third) and Robert Garrigus (2 under, T-7) were better than him on a perfect day for scoring.
“It’s straightforward, you know what you have to do,” said McIlroy, who is tied for 12th place and three strokes off the lead. “You’ve got to hit the fairways and you’ve got to hit the greens. Not really much course knowledge or local knowledge needed.”
Not finding the fairway likely cost McIlroy a few strokes on Day 1. He connected with just half of East Lake’s fairways and needed 28 putts in a marquee duel with Tiger Woods, who trails the Ulsterman in the FedEx Cup race and World Golf Ranking.
In the current scenario Woods would win the FedEx Cup, clipping McIlroy by 36 points, and although the ranking projections are not out for this week’s event Woods will not be able to overtake McIlroy in the ranking.