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Alex Miceli
Billy Horschel during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship, the final event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.
Billy Horschel during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship, the final event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.

ATLANTA – The first round of the Tour Championship is in the books, with few surprises. Nos. 1-2 in the FedEx Cup points list are tied atop the leaderboard. Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel shot 4-under 66s and lead by one shot over Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson.

But there was more to the day than that. Here are 5 Things to know from East Lake.

• • •

1. BABY CAN WAIT: Billy Horschel and his wife Brittany are expecting their first child, a girl. With the due date in two weeks, it's unlikely that Horschel will have ...

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Adam Schupak
Bubba Watson during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship to wrap up the FedEx Cup at East Lake in Atlanta.
Bubba Watson during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship to wrap up the FedEx Cup at East Lake in Atlanta.

ATLANTA – It was a battle of the bombers in the second-to-last pairing Thursday at the Tour Championship at East Lake. Bubba Watson, the Masters champion, leads the Tour in driving distance, and Rory McIlroy, the British and PGA champion, has dominated the driving stats in four of his last five starts. So who won their long-drive contest?

“Who cares,” Watson said. “Listen, all we want to do is win … Jim Furyk’s record, Corey Pavin’s record is a lot better than Bubba Watson, so I wish I hit like them, I guess.”

For the record, it was Watson, who ...

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Jim McCabe
Chris Kirk during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship, the final event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.
Chris Kirk during Thursday's first round of the 2014 Tour Championship, the final event of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.

ATLANTA – Nothing like a Georgia-Florida tussle to provide a little Happy Hour fuel for the Bulldog faithful.

Good thing, too, because by the time the dinner hour arrived, Rory McIlroy had finished, and so, too, had Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. There was great warmth, the taps were still flowing, the corporate chalets had plenty of front-row seats, but what was going to maintain the fans’ interest in this sleepy opening round to the Tour Championship?

How ‘bout Nos. 1 and 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel, in the final pairing? And very much on ...

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September 11, 2014 | 6:22 p.m.

Tee times: Tour Championship, second round

Golfweek Staff
Chris Kirk will play alongside Billy Horschel in the second round of the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Chris Kirk will play alongside Billy Horschel in the second round of the Tour Championship at East Lake.

Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are currently Nos. 1 and 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, respectively.

Friday, they'll make up the final pairing for the second round of the Tour Championship. The pair, at 4 under, will tee off at 11 a.m. Eastern at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Second-round tee times were moved up due to the threat of inclement weather Friday afternoon.

Other notable second-round pairings include:

  • Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson, 10:40 a.m.
  • Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott, 10 a.m.
  • Rory McIlroy and Brendon Todd, 9:50 a.m.

Here ...

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Golfweek Staff
Bubba Watson during the first round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Bubba Watson during the first round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Bubba Watson bogeyed his final hole, the par-3 18th, Thursday at East Lake to drop out of the lead at the Tour Championship.

Watson's opening 3-under 67 has him one shot back of co-leaders Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk. Horschel won last week's BMW Championship while Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago and currently leads the FedEx Cup standings.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is 1 under, three shots back.

Sees how it all unfolded Thursday in Atlanta – and scroll down for our pre-tournament coverage.

• • •

Update No. 31: 5:48 p.m. ET

Chris Kirk ...

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September 11, 2014 | 1:18 p.m.

SCORES: Tour Championship

Golfweek Staff
Rory McIlroy during the second round of the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.
Rory McIlroy during the second round of the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.

Click here for the full leaderboard.

Alex Miceli
Rory McIlroy (right) said Wednesday that Tiger Woods (left) and Phil Mickelson were "getting into the sort of last few holes of their career."
Rory McIlroy (right) said Wednesday that Tiger Woods (left) and Phil Mickelson were "getting into the sort of last few holes of their career."

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy is 25 years old, the world's top-ranked player and will drive down Magnolia Lane next spring with four major titles and a shot at the career Grand Slam.

Should he win the Masters in April, McIlroy would be the first player to complete the career Grand Slam since Tiger Woods in 2000.

The same Woods who McIlroy suggested was "getting older."

It was the third-to-final question in a Tour Championship news conference that ran for 20 minutes – and subsequently has lit social media on fire.

McIlroy's statement? Here's a look:

“Phil has played well ...

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Jim McCabe
Rickie Fowler (above) and fellow U.S. Ryder Cup team members Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson played a practice-round match together Wednesday at East Lake with Fowler and Walker coming away with the victory.
Rickie Fowler (above) and fellow U.S. Ryder Cup team members Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson played a practice-round match together Wednesday at East Lake with Fowler and Walker coming away with the victory.

ATLANTA – Gamesmanship? Character-building? A curious strategy?

It was none of the above, according to Rickie Fowler. The fact that his playing partner, Jimmy Walker, held a cellphone to his ear on the final hole of a match against Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth was a matter of business protocol.

It seems as if Walker had been asked to do a conference call promoting next month’s Frys.com Open, at which he will be the defending champion. And the timing came as the foursome played the par-5 ninth and final hole of a practice-round match at East Lake Golf Club ...

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Bill Zimmerman

Among the many public celebrations of Arnold Palmer's 85th birthday, the PGA Tour came up with a compelling video tribute to the man affectionately known as The King.

Leaning on Jay Haas, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus for narration, the video posted Wednesday shows Palmer in his playing days during a reading of "Thinking," by Walter D. Wintle, one of Palmer's favorite poems.

Nicklaus delivers the poem's final, signature lines: "But soon or late, the man who wins / Is the one who thinks he can."

Safe to say that goes well beyond mixing a pitcher ...

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Alex Miceli
Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he intends to trim at least two or three tournaments next season from his anticipated 25-tournament schedule this season.
Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he intends to trim at least two or three tournaments next season from his anticipated 25-tournament schedule this season.

ATLANTA – Golf fans likely will see less of Rory McIlroy in 2015.

McIlroy, the world's top-ranked player, said Wednesday that he intends to trim at least two or three tournaments next season from his anticipated 25-tournament schedule this season.

“I'll probably let it come down a little bit, maybe make it between 20 and 23," McIlroy said before this week's season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

Why?

“Just to try and stay as fresh as possible and give myself the best possible chance each and every week that I tee it up, the best possible ...

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Jim McCabe
Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson during the 2014 PGA Championship
Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson during the 2014 PGA Championship

It was 2011, the year after he played in the Ryder Cup as a PGA Tour rookie, when Rickie Fowler started to take up Phil Mickelson on his invitations into the Tuesday “money games.” Fowler doesn’t underestimate the value of those games, either, and he is forever indebted to Mickelson for being a mentor.

One of Fowler’s most vivid memories of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor came at the conclusion of his match with Edoardo Molinari. In crunch time, Fowler completed an improbable comeback to secure a spirited halve with a clutch putt at the 18th ...

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Jim McCabe
Bubba Watson was a Ryder Cup fan favorite at Medinah two years ago – but might be a little more low key on foreign soil at Gleneagles in 2014.
Bubba Watson was a Ryder Cup fan favorite at Medinah two years ago – but might be a little more low key on foreign soil at Gleneagles in 2014.

ATLANTA – If Tom Watson thinks a little levity will be needed later this month in the U.S. Ryder Cup locker room, there’s a certain left-hander with his armed raised.

“Let me be goofy. Goofy Bubba.”

So stated Bubba Watson, who might not possess the emotional fire that is a common denominator with his colleagues and foes alike when it comes to the Ryder Cup (“No matter if we win or lose, I don’t see it as a bad thing,” he said), but he sure offers perspective from the other side of the galaxy.

Asked how he seems ...

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Jim McCabe
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem touches on a variety of topics Tuesday before this week's Tour Championship in Atlanta, including the lack of an off-week during the FedEx Cup playoffs, Nick Faldo's award and more.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem touches on a variety of topics Tuesday before this week's Tour Championship in Atlanta, including the lack of an off-week during the FedEx Cup playoffs, Nick Faldo's award and more.

ATLANTA – To the players who complained somewhere along the FedEx Cup playoff circuit – be it in New Jersey, Boston or Denver – you needn’t wonder whether Tour commissioner Tim Finchem got the hint.

“We don’t like playing four weeks in a row in the playoffs, either,” Finchem said Tuesday at East Lake Golf Club, site of this week's Tour Championship. “It’s not going to happen the next few years.”

Although the first three tournaments of this year’s playoff series featured a resurgent winner (Hunter Mahan) and two younger faces (Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel) breaking through ...

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Jim McCabe
Rickie Fowler has been a steady contender at majors and in the PGA Tour's 2014 FedEx Cup playoffs.
Rickie Fowler has been a steady contender at majors and in the PGA Tour's 2014 FedEx Cup playoffs.

ATLANTA – You can make a strong argument that Jim Furyk (10 top-10s) and Rickie Fowler (T-5, T-2, T-2, T-3 in the four majors) were the steadiest players during the regular season. So it comes as no surprise that they’ve continued that trend in the playoffs.

Furyk and Fowler are among 17 players in the Tour Championship who likely will play in all 16 post-season rounds, and they’ve scored the best, thus far.

Having broken 70 in eight of 12 rounds and been no higher than 72, Furyk is 26 under for his play in The Barclays, Deutsche Bank ...

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Cassie Stein
Rory McIlroy will start the Tour Championship at No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Rory McIlroy will start the Tour Championship at No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.

The last two PGA Tour winners – Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk – will share a tee time Thursday for the first round of the Tour Championship, the final stop of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.

Kirk, who finished T-36 last week at the BMW Championship, held onto the No. 1 spot by nine points in the FedEx Cup standings.

If Kirk, Horschel, Bubba Watson (‘14 Masters champion), Rory McIlroy (‘14 Open and PGA champion) or Hunter Mahan (winner of The Barclays) win the Tour Championship title, they also win the FedEx Cup. McIlroy and Watson will play in the ...

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