Anyone who thought it was a fluke that Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are atop the standings of the FedExCup points board got a rude awakening on Thursday.
Kirk and Horschel each shot a 4-under 66 to tie for the lead. Just nine points separate the two in the overall points tally. If either wins the tournament, he’ll win the overall FedEx title as well, including $10 million in prize money.
Horschel, who won the BMW Championship a week ago and finished second at the Deutsche Bank Championship, knocked four birdies without a single bogey.
Kirk, who won Deutsche Bank, had a nearly similar round, four birdies, no bogeys.
Fifteen players in the 29-man field finished at least a stroke under par. Four men are at 3-under, one stroke back, including Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson.
Furyk looked anything but sharp, sitting at 1-over through 10 holes, then rattled off four birdies between 12 and 17.
Watson’s round was even wilder. He was 2-under at the turn, and 3-under after 10 holes, then double bogeyed No. 13. He followed that with three straight birdies before bogeying 18.
Among the field tied at 1-under are Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy.
Headed the wrong way in a hurry are two guys with a real chance to win the overall title heading into Atlanta – Martin Kaymer and Jimmy Walker, who eached finished the first round 3-over.
Kaymer had a disastrous four-hole stretch on the front nine in which he went 5-over, and also bogeyed 17 and 18. Walker suffered six first-round bogeys.