Rory McIlroy boosts Tour Championship hopes with brilliant opening 64

Rory McIlroy boosts Tour Championship hopes with brilliant opening 64”

So hopefully I can keep rolling it consistently good and tidy up those tee shots.

Johnson, who shot 67, began on 10-under by virtue of his season points lead. Rahm holed one from 20 feet on the par-3 second hole, and Johnson matched him from 6 feet. I'm assuming my fairways hit percentage wasn't very high, so to not hit many fairways and still shoot low, it's a hard task out here. "It's a decent score. It wasn't like I was way off or anything, I just hit quite a few drives just in the rough, which is no good around here".

However, the four-time major victor reduced his deficit to four strokes thanks to a superb 64 which included eight birdies and two bogeys and a back nine of 30 at East Lake. McIlroy stands two further back in fourth and still within sight of what would be a third FedEx crown.

"The trials and tribulations of what goes on out on the golf course don't really seem to matter that much", McIlroy (31) said at East Lake.

"It's nice to have this little four or five hours to myself".

"So many times we usually play good when we play's weird to see us both struggle off the tee", Rahm told reporters.

Johnson and Rahm had golf buzzing last week with that wild finish at the BMW Championship, where Johnson holed a bending 45-foot birdie putt down the slope on the final hole to force a playoff, and Rahm followed by making a 65-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that turned out to be the victor.

"The key out here is driving", Johnson said.

Palmer got a bogey on the 469-yard par-4 first, getting on the green in 3 and two putting, moving Palmer to 1 over for the round. He said later it felt awkward to start the tournament with a two-shot lead before hitting a shot.

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"Overall when you're starting seven back like I am, just trying to creep a little closer to the lead each day is what you try to do and I've done that today".

Rahm made a 19-foot birdie putt at the second, took bogey at three, then dropped his approach inches from the cup to set up a birdie at six. I tried at least.

"I feel like I was doing most of the pushing because I made pretty much every single birdie putt before he did", Rahm said.

Rahm, followed with a 16-foot birdie putt at 16 after Johnson missed from 25 feet, leaving them both at 13-under.

At the par-5 18th, Johnson blasted out of a greenside bunker to 4 1/2 feet but lipped out on his birdie putt while Rahm lipped out on his bunker bid for birdie and settled for a tap-in par. "I didn't touch a club for four days in between tournaments", McIlroy said.

At the Challenge Tour's Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Naas' Conor O'Rourke (29) heads the 16-strong Irish challenge after carding a one-under 69 to share 17th place, just three shots behind Frenchman Julien Quesne.

"It's sort of a sanctuary", he said. "Yeah, happy to have the start that I did".

McIlroy has not managed a top-10 finish since the US PGA Tour returned from a three-month COVID-19 shutdown in June, impending fatherhood and spectator-less events taking a toll.

That required Rahm getting the better of Johnson again. I was coming in with no expectations.

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