Aug 22, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Justin Thomas hits his tee shot on the 4th hole during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
(Reuters) – Justin Thomas shot a mediocre even-par 70 on the first day at the Tour Championship on Thursday but ended the round tied for the lead with fellow Americans Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
Thomas was grateful for the unique staggered scoring system, which afforded him a headstart at 10 under par thanks to his top seeding as FedEx Cup points leader at the season-ending event at East Lake in Atlanta.
Third seed Koepka carded 67 and Schauffele had a 64, the day’s best round by two strokes.
Americans Thomas, Koepka and Schauffele headed the 30-man field by one stroke from Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (66).
The winner on Sunday will receive the sport’s biggest payout, $15 million.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond