Tracker: Woods (66) tied for lead, McIlroy 3 back

Rory McIlroy, left, waits to tee off on the second hole as Tiger Woods watches during first round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.

Rory McIlroy, left, waits to tee off on the second hole as Tiger Woods watches during first round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.

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Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Avondale, LA - TPC Louisiana

11:01:15 AM ET. 04/24/2014




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ATLANTA -- For the third time in the last four tournaments, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy took the first tee together, this time at the Tour Championship at East Lake.

And both rose to the occasion.

Woods fired a 4-under 66 to grab a share of the lead with Justin Rose. McIlroy turned in a 1-under 69 and is just three shots back.

"I played well today," Woods said. "It was a very consistent round. I hit the ball well, made some putts and, you know, got up and down a few times."

In a week that Greg Norman said that Woods is intimidated by McIlroy (which the two have now made into a joke, with McIlroy now picking up the nickname "The Intimidator"), the PGA Tour got the match-up it wanted. Woods made six birdies and McIlroy three, as both made early statements as they compete for the FedEx Cup.

"I'm really enjoying it," McIlroy said. "I really like the golf course. I think it's a really good test and it will be a great challenge these next three days."

Here's how it happened:

• • •

No. 18, par 4, 235 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 18: This one will get the players’ blood racing because it demands a long iron or rescue to a well-bunkered, small green perched 15 feet above the tee box.

Off the tee: Tiger selects 5-iron and hits a great shot about 12 feet to the right of the hole. That one gets a huge applause from the gallery. Rory also goes with 5-iron, but leaves his just short of the green.

Rest of the hole: McIlroy chips from below the green and gets it to about a foot. He taps in for a 1-under 69. Tiger now has this to take the outright lead. He judges the speed correctly but leaves it low and left. He taps in for a 4-under 66, ending the day in a tie for the lead with Justin Rose.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 4 under; McIlroy, 1 under

• • •

No. 17, par 4, 453 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 17: Three yawning fairway bunkers 275-320 yards off the tee are definitely to be avoided, though that brings water more into play. The raised green, protected up front, kicks everything to the left and toward that water again.

Off the tee: Tiger delivers another great drive, finding the middle of the fairway about 310 yards from the tee. McIlroy then steps up and puts his ball just to the left of Tiger's, earning a compliment from Woods.

Rest of the hole: Tiger is about 150 yards out and judges the distance almost perfectly, but he misses about 18 feet left of the hole, setting up an uphill putt for birdie. McIlroy misses about 30 feet right on his approach and then leaves his downhill birdie putt just short. He taps in for par. Tiger walks around, studying this one carefully, and it nearly pays off, catching the left lip before lipping out. He taps in for par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 4 under; McIlroy, 1 under

• • •

No. 16, par 4, 481 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 16: The right side falls off quickly into woods; the left side gets progressively narrower from 230 to 320 yards off the tee thanks to four bunkers arrayed diagonally into the line of play. Catch the speed slot right center, and some players will be hitting wedge into this green.

Off the tee: Tiger and Rory both hit drives around 330 yards, although McIlroy is in the left intermediate and Tiger in the right intermediate.

Rest of the hole: About 145 yards out, Tiger sticks his approach to within 8 feet. Rory delivers a solid approach as well, setting up an 11 footer for birdie. McIlroy putts first and doesn;t give the left-to-right putt enough respect as the ball rolls by right of the hole. He taps in for par. Tiger then puts a nice stroke on his birdie putt and walks it in for a share of the lead.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 4 under; McIlroy, 1 under

• • •

No. 15, par 5, 525 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 15: From the low-lying tee, the land here is just crying out for a left-to-right slider played off a deep bunker on the left side. From there, it’s an uphill slider to a potato-chip green that’s easy to hit but hard to hold if approached through the middle.

Off the tee: Tiger pops up his tee shot and as a result only hits it 238 yards. It does find the fairway, though. McIlroy drives it right and into the first cut of rough, just to the left of a pair of fairway bunkers.

Rest of the hole: With about 285 yards left, Tiger leaves his second shot a little short of the green. McIlroy goes for the green, playing a high draw, but he leaves it just short, finding the right-front greenside bunker. Tiger plays a nice chip-and-run from about 35 yards out and leaves it about 2 feet from the hole. Rory also makes a nice third shot, hitting out of the sand to about 3 feet. Tiger and McIlroy both drain their birdie putts.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 3 under; McIlroy, 1 under

• • •

No. 14, par 4, 442 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 14: Straightaway, slightly downhill, tight off the tee, to a green with a second tier that makes getting an approach close to the hole very difficult, especially out of the rough. From behind the green, as with much of East Lake, par-saving recoveries will go a long way toward determining the winner.

Off the tee: First 'Fore!' of the day from Tiger, coming through a bit late on his swing with driver and he sends it into the gallery on the right. McIlroy sends his drive up the left side and into the rough.

Rest of the hole: Tiger's second shot hits a tree, but manages to move forward after a violent swing from Woods. He put a lot of muscle into that one, which is why it got through that tree. McIlroy finds the rough just off the green with his second shot and has more than 30 feet for birdie. McIlroy opts to hit 3-wood from just off the green, but leaves it well short. Tiger gets on the green with his third shot, leaving about a 10 footer for par. After McIlroy just misses his 20-foot par putt low, Tiger misses his par save, too.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 2 under; McIlroy, even

• • •

No. 13, par 4, 453 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 13: The uphill drive has to trundle through an ominous-looking chute of tree and needs to steer wide right of two expansive fairway bunkers 280-330 yards out on the left.

Off the tee: Tiger splits another fairway with driver. Looks really comfortable with driver in hand. McIlroy finds the left rough with driver.

Rest of the hole: McIlroy has to hack out of the rough and finds the rough on the opposite side of the fairway. Moments later, Tiger sticks his approach to about 6 feet behind the hole. McIlroy can only get his third shot to about 30 feet past the hole, having to again hack out of the long stuff. And he buries it. Big par save for McIlroy. Tiger doesn't read enough break in his birdie attempt, settling for a par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 3 under; McIlroy, 1 under

• • •

No. 12, par 4, 476 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 12: This downhill hole is the toughest drive of any par 4 at East Lake thanks to a massive fairway bunker on the right and an overhanging hardwood on the right that cuts off the landing area.

Off the tee: Tiger uses long iron and slides it up the right side of the fairway, while McIlroy misses the fairway to the right and is in the longer rough.

Rest of the hole: McIlroy gets his ball onto the green and has about 20 feet for birdie, while Tiger attacks the back-right pin and slides just into the first cut of rough. But that is no obstacle for Tiger, as he chips in for his fourth birdie of the day to move within a shot of the lead. McIlroy also drains his birdie putt to get into red figures.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 3 under; McIlroy, 1 under

Elsewhere on the course: Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner fell behind early but have since climbed up the leaderboard. Watson is at even par thru 15 holes and has a pair of birdies since bogeys at Nos. 6 and 7. Dufner is also at even and is thru 13 holes. He was 3 over after six holes, but three birdies since have helped him rebound.

• • •

No. 11, par 3, 197 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 11: This hole occupies the far northeast corner of the property and plays slightly uphill to a deep green, the rear third of which cannot be seen from the tees.

Off the tee: Both players send good tee balls into the green, with Tiger about 25 feet past the hole and McIlroy about 8 feet left of the hole.

Rest of the hole: Tiger has to delicately hit his birdie putt and it runs by on the left and he taps in for a par. McIlroy misses a prime opportunity for a birdie, hitting the hole and settling for par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 2 under; McIlroy, Even

• • •

No. 10, par 4, 469 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 10: Another converted par 5, this one heavily bunkered the length of the fairway on the left side – close to the line best suited for approaching the small green. The putting surface is designed for a par 5 and thus somewhat elusive to long irons on a low trajectory.

Off the tee: Tiger pushes his tee ball to the right and into the longer rough. McIlroy also goes right, but finds the intermediate cut.

Rest of the hole: Tiger manages to hit the green despite being in the long rough, but has 45 feet from behind the hole. McIlroy comes up short and lands in another greenside bunker. McIlroy gets up-and-down for par after a great bunker shot, while Tiger sends his birdie attempt about 5 feet past and knocks that in for par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 2 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Justin Rose (4-under 66) is now all alone atop the leaderboard after Bo Van Pelt's bogey at No. 17. It was Van Pelt's first bogey of the round and it drops him back into a tie for second with Scott Piercy (3-under 67) and Matt Kuchar (3 under thru 15).

• • •

No. 9, par 5, 600 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 9: Forget the length here; this will be easily reachable in two for players who can drive the ball 300-plus yards in the air and reach the downward kick point where fairway turbo-charges the ball forward.

Off the tee: Both McIlroy and Tiger hammer their tee shots, with Tiger going about 15 yards further. Both are in the middle of the fairway. No one has reached the green in two today, but both should have a reasonable chance here.

Rest of the hole: Both players go after the green, but McIlroy misses left and Tiger misses right and into a bunker. Tiger's bunker shot settles about 4 feet from the hole while McIlroy chips about 10 feet past. Tiger buries his for birdie, but McIlroy misses and settles for a par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 2 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Bo Van Pelt has grabbed sole possession of the lead after a birdie at the par-5 15th. It's his fourth birdie of the day as Van Pelt sits at 4 under and still hasn't made anything worse than par thru 15 holes. Louis Oosthuizen just moved back to 1 over after his second straight birdie. Oosthuizen made a tough 45 footer from the fringe on No. 8 and then added another birdie at No. 9 to help turn around a poor start that included a bogey at No. 3 and a double at No. 5.

• • •

No. 8, par 4, 405 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 8: This is the only one of East Lake’s holes that is not set at a rigid right angle to the holes immediately in front of or behind it. There’s no need for a driver here. All that counts is getting the tee shot safely into play on an unusually contoured fairway — the rolling terrain is a remnant of Civil War-era entrenchments.

Off the tee: McIlroy finds the rough on the right, his first pure miss of the fairway on the day. Tiger takes 5-wood and finds a fairway bunker on the left, as he tried to cut the corner on the dogleg.

Rest of the hole: Tiger plays a nice approach to about 25 feet left of the pin, while McIlroy comes up short of the green and into a bunker in the front. McIlroy gets up-and-down from the bunker for par, while Tiger misses his birdie on the high side and also settles for a par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Scott Piercy entered the par-3 18th with a two-shot lead at 5 under. He now is in a share of the lead at 3 under after closing his first round with a double bogey. Piercy sent his tee shot way left of the hole and then hit his second over the green. He left his third shot fairly short and missed the bogey putt.

• • •

No. 7, par 4, 434 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 7: This uphill hole twists around a strategic bunker on the (ideal) right side, 280 yards to reach and 300 yards to fly. The safer, right side of the fairway is cut off early.

Off the tee: McIlroy bombs his tee ball up the right side, while Tiger hits fairway wood and splits the fairway. Big swing on that one from both of them.

Rest of the hole: Tiger laughs at his second shot, but still lands pin-high and has 25 feet for birdie. McIlroy hits a nice shot to about 12 feet behind the hole. Tiger sends his birdie attempt about 5 feet past, but he drains that for par. McIlroy two-putts for a par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Justin Rose was at 1 over thru seven holes, but has since fought back to 3 under, just two shots off the lead set by Scott Piercy. Rose has two straight birdies, including most recently at the par-5 15th, and has three holes left. Adam Scott has moved to 2 under after a birdie at the par-5 15th. Scott stuck his second shot to about 10 feet, but missed the eagle putt. He has five birdie thru 15 holes.

• • •

No. 6, par 3, 209 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 6: This is one of the country’s oldest island par-3s and surely East Lake’s most action-packed hole. The table-top green is encircled by the club’s massive lake and offers one very busy bunker on the left.

Off the tee: McIlroy decides to be aggressive and finds the right side of the green, about 25 feet right of the hole. Tiger finds the greenside bunker on the left, not liking the shot immediately.

Rest of the hole: Tiger plays a beautiful sand shot to about 2 feet and taps in for a solid par. McIlroy sends his birdie attempt 3 feet past and knocks that in for par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Scott Piercy has stretched his lead to three shots after a birdie at the par-4 16th. It was the third straight birdie for Piercy, who sank a 9-footer to make his most recent one. He's at 5 under with two holes left.

• • •

No. 5, par 4, 520 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 5: Here’s a members’ par-5 routed at the far end of the golf course that offers a modest reverse-camber effect and tips from high-right to low-left while bending up toward the right. (Check out Brad's hole-by-hole breakdown here)

Off the tee: Both players find the fairway with driver here, with Tiger up the left side and McIlroy on the right. McIlroy is about 20 yards ahead.

Rest of the hole: Tiger comes up just short of the green with his second, but at this difficult par 4, he is in good position. McIlroy finds the green and leaves himself 15 feet for birdie. Tiger leaves his birdie try a foot short and settles for par. McIlroy sends his birdie try about 3 feet past and knocks that in for par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Scott Piercy, who entered the tournament No. 30 in the FedEx Cup standings, has retaken the outright lead with a birdie at the par-5 15th. Piercy found a greenside bunker on his second shot, but was able to stick it to about 4 feet out of the sand and sink the left-to-right putt for his fifth birdie of the day. Luke Donald has been near the bottom of the leaderboard for much of the day, but he just made a 37-foot birdie putt at No. 10 to move back to 1 over. He bogeyed two of his first four holes.

• • •

No. 4, par 4, 440 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 4: This is another hole that favors the left side of the fairway, thanks to a pair of fairway bunkers along the high side right and a dense stand of trees.

Off the tee: Tiger punishes another tee ball, just hammering it up the middle of the fairway. Another quick bend down to pick up the tee. McIlroy also goes up the right side, about 10 yards past Tiger.

Rest of the hole: Tiger misses his first green in regulation here, getting a hard kick to the right and into a greenside bunker. McIlroy hits the green, but nearly spun his ball off the front edge. Tiger hits a poor shot out of the bunker that doesn't reach the green, hits a great chip that hangs on the lip and settles for a poor bogey. McIlroy two-putts for a par.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: JIm Furyk doesn't have the outright lead for long as Scott Piercy birdies No. 14 to move to 3 under. Piercy drained about a 17-foot putt to move into a share of the lead. It was his fourth birdie of the round.

• • •

No. 3, par 4, 387 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 3: Dense trees and out-of-bounds loom on the length of the right side. The smart play here off tee is a long iron or fairway wood past the first bunker on the left and short of a second bunker 300 yards out.

Off the tee: Tiger takes driver for the first time and laces a ball up the left side of the fairway, never really even gave the ball a look, as he knew it was good right away. McIlroy goes up the right side and kicks into the fairway.

Rest of the hole: McIlroy hits a nice approach to about 12 feet behind the front-right pin, while Tiger does him a bit better by putting it about 5 feet under the hole. McIlroy makes his left-to-right birdie putt, while Tiger raps his in as well to pick up back-to-back birdies.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 2 under; McIlroy, Even

Elsewhere on the course: Adam Scott has moved back to even after chipping in for birdie at the par-4 10th. Scott left his approach just short of the green before making the 20-yard chip. Scott has three birdies and three bogeys thru 10 holes. Jim Furyk nearly holed his third shot for eagle at the par-5 ninth, leaving it inches short. He would tap in for birdie to move into sole possession of the lead at 3 under.

• • •

No. 2, par 3, 214 yards

From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 2: A perfect medium-length par-3, slightly uphill, across an inconsequential front pond, to a modestly sloped green reminiscent in its bunkering of the 11th at St. Andrews – a deep bunker front right and another deep hazard flanking the left side. (Check out Brad's hole-by-hole breakdown here)

Off the tee: Tiger bends down quickly to pick up his tee, which is always a good sign, landing in the middle of the green and leaves himself 20 feet for birdie. McIlroy overcooks his ball a bit and finds a greenside bunker on the left.

Rest of the hole: McIlroy plays a great sand shot to about 2 feet and taps in for par. Nice save. Tiger drains his long birdie attempt, with the ball just sneaking in on the right edge. A little wave of the hand to the crowd.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, 1 under; McIlroy, 1 over

Elsewhere on the course: Jim Furyk has joined Scott Piercy and Bo Van Pelt in the lead at 2 under. Furyk has two birdies thru eight hole, including one at the par-4 eighth, where he drained a 10-footer for birdie.

• • •

No. 1, par 4, 424 yards

Tiger Woods makes his way to the first tee to a thunderous applause. Tiger is wearing a white hat, white shirt and grey slacks. From our Bradley S. Klein on No. 1: Straightaway, uncomplicated, to a fairway set perpendicular to the contour line. The hole is organized around four natural high points – tee, green and two intermediate rolls in the fairway, with most drives coming to rest beyond the second rise in a swale that leaves an uphill approach.

Off the tee: Both Rory and Tiger take fairway wood off the tee, with McIlroy finding the right intermediate and Tiger finding the right fairway.

Rest of the hole: Rory and Tiger walk up the first fairway, chatting it up. Smiles, some laughter. Tiger plays a magnificent second shot that nearly lands in the hole, settling about 10 feet past the cup. He two-putts from there for a par, just missing the birdie to the right. McIlroy takes it over the green with his apporach after being ahead of Tiger by some 40 yards. He hits a poor chip and misses a long par putt to pick up an opening bogey.

ON THE DAY: Tiger, Even; McIlroy, 1 over

• • •

Update #2: 1:50 p.m. EDT

Lee Westwood has looked much more comfortable with his putter over the past couple of weeks, and it is paying dividends, as he opens birdie-birdie to get to 2 under and shares the early lead.

• • •

Update #1: 1:38 p.m. EDT

Ryan Moore, Bo Van Pelt and Scott Piercy have set the early pace, all sitting at 2 under thru nine holes. Moore started hot, picking up three birdies over his first four holes.

Lee Westwood starts his round with a birdie after a nice second shot to the top shelf of the first green.

There are only four players under par thus far on Thursday.

• • •

Complete breakdown of 30 to advance to Tour Championship

Here's a closer look at the 30 players that have advanced to the Tour Championship at East Lake in two weeks. Story.

• • •

A look at the Tour Championship: Player power rankings

Our Sean Martin crunched the numbers and came out with some interesting power rankings as the 30 finalists head to East Lake this week in search of the FedEx Cup crown. Story.

• • •

FedEx Cup: A look at the scenarios for each player to win title

Just how would Scott Piercy win the FedEx Cup title as the 30th seed? The breakdown of all 30 players and what they need to have happen to win the FedEx Cup title Sunday at East Lake. Story.

• • •

Tour Championship: First-round tee times at East Lake

The first-round tee times for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Tee times.

• • •

FedEx Cup: Our predictions to win the $10 million prize

Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods can win the FedEx Cup - and $10 million - with a victory at the Tour Championship. Each was picked by at least one of our panelists. Predictions.

• • •

Tour Championship: Klein takes you hole-by-hole at East Lake

Our Bradley S. Klein takes you hole-by-hole at East Lake, the site of this week's Tour Championship for the 12th time and FedEx Cup finisher since 2007. Story.

• • •

Rory McIlroy dismisses talk that he intimidates Tiger Woods

On the eve of the Tour Championship, Rory McIlroy quickly dismissed the notion that he is intimidating to Tiger Woods. Still, the two make up a good head-to-head match. Story.

• • •

Rude: With Couples in Hall of Fame, look for membership to grow

It was announced today that Fred Couples will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Jeff Rude presents a Q&A. Story.

• • •

Little time left for Tour players to find top-50 spot in World Rankings

On the eve of the Tour Championship, the most intriguing storylines are about those players closest to the No. 50 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Story.

• • •

Babineau: Hall takes it easy with latest honoree

The World Golf Hall of Fame just got a little more laid-back with the addition of Fred Couples. Story.

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