Golf: Stanley leads Tour Championship, Spieth in the wings

Kyle Stanley of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the first round of the championship, on Sept 21, 2017.
Kyle Stanley of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the first round of the championship, on Sept 21, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

ATLANTA (AFP) - Kyle Stanley got off to a hot start and outshone the big guns to lead after the opening round of the Tour Championship Thursday but Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are poised to strike.

Stanley shot a six-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead at East Lake Golf Club and put himself in contention to win the PGA Tour's four tournament playoff series.

American Stanley holds a two-shot lead over four players who shot 66, comprising US Open champion Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, England's Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.

World No. 2 Spieth and PGA champion Thomas are tied for sixth with 67s along with Spain's Jon Rahm, Russell Henley and Gary Woodland.

Stanley is playing in the Tour Championship for the first time and was seeded No. 22 in the 30-man field. He charged out of the gate with four straight birdies starting at No. 3 and made the turn in 32.

He had three birdies on the back nine for another 32. His only mishap came on the eighth hole where he posted a bogey.

Top ranked Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Pat Perez and Justin Rose were tied for 11th at 68.

Spieth entered the tournament in first place in the FedEx Cup standings. Spieth was two under through eight, but went eight holes without a birdie before making a 14-footer at No. 16.

The 24-year-old Thomas, who has won five times in 2017, had birdies on four of six holes beginning at the par-four No. 7 and then capped his round with a birdie on 18, his sixth of the day.

Twenty of the 30 players broke par on the warm day at the par-70 East Lake course.