Kirk stays in control of FedExCup with opening 66
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
ATLANTA (Reuters) - FedExCup points leader Chris Kirk maintained control of the season-long race for playoff honours as he surged into a share of the lead in Thursday's opening round of the elite Tour Championship.
Kirk, who took over at the top of the standings with his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship earlier this month, fired a four-under-par 66 to set the pace with fellow American Billy Horschel in the PGA Tour's season-ending event.
Northern Irish world number one Rory McIlroy, hunting his fourth PGA Tour victory of the year, returned a 69 to remain in contention for overall playoff honors, a title he has never previously won and has specifically targeted this week.
As the leading two players in the FedExCup standings, Kirk and Horschel were drawn together for the opening round and they clearly benefited from what Kirk called a comfortable pairing.
"We both had a solid day," Kirk told reporters after emulating his playing partner by recording four birdies in a bogey-free display on a sunny but muggy afternoon.
"Billy's obviously been playing some pretty incredible golf with winning last week and finishing second the week before, and I've been doing all right myself.
"So it was a comfortable pairing for both of us, and the golf course played really, really well. It was tough, but very fair. And we both had it going pretty nice."