ATLANTA — At 2 p.m. local time on Thursday at the Tour Championship, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler had a two-shot lead. Two hours later, he had a five-shot advantage at East Lake. But by the end of the day, he was, somehow, one shot behind.
“I’m obviously pretty frustrated,” the Texan put it mildly.
FedEx Cup leader Scheffler began Day 1 at 10 under par using the Tour Championship’s adjusted scoring—two shots ahead of Viktor Hovland. After a front nine as hot as the sweltering temperatures around Atlanta, Scheffler cooled off on the inward nine. He carded bogeys at Nos. 8, 11 and 12. He made a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 15th having rinsed his tee shot in the water before missing a three-foot putt for double bogey. Until then, Scheffler, the Players champion, had not registered a single triple-bogey on a par 3 this season.
The 27-year-old birdied No. 17 and eventually signed for a 71 to fall to nine under par. Collin Morikawa surged into a share of the lead courtesy of a 61 that elevated him nine shots to 10 under, alongside Hovland (68). Adam Schenk and Russell Henley were eight under, while an injured Rory McIlroy dug deep for a 70 that kept him at seven under and three back.
The FedEx Cup is still wide open.
Scheffler lost 2.833 strokes to the field, his worst round of the season, and dropped 3.229 in putting. He needed 33 putts.
“I got off to a pretty good start, and then I had a few three-putts, which definitely is frustrating, and then I had the bad swing there on the par-3, 15,” he said.
The silver lining is Scheffler, a two-time winner this season, is still very much in the hunt for a maiden FedEx Cup victory. It’s a title he squandered last year to Rory McIlroy having arrived at East Lake as the FedEx Cup leader and Masters champion.
“I guess it’s a little bit of a blessing to have a pretty bad day and still be in the tournament,” Scheffler said. “So, yeah, go out there tomorrow and just keep fighting.”