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Scheffler starts with Tour Championship lead and expands it

ATLANTA (AP) – Masters champion Scottie Scheffler might have had a roller coaster of an opening round on Thursday at the Tour Championship if only he had been paying attention to the scoreboards.

Scheffler started with a two-shot lead as the number one seed in the FedEx Cup.

He led by as many as six shots on the front nine. Then his lead was down to two. And when he finished with three straight birdies for a five-under 65, he was five strokes ahead of Xander Schauffele.

Rory McIlroy’s day at East Lake was far more wild. And he knew it.

A two-time FedEx Cup champion, McIlroy started six shots behind. He teed off in a downpour and hooked his tee shot over the fence and out-of-bounds. He reloaded and found a bunker. He missed a six-foot putt and took triple bogey, and just like that was nine shots behind.

Schauffele was as dangerous as ever, and his record at East Lake is astounding. This was his 21st round in the Tour Championship, and his 19th round under par.

Weirder still was Scheffler’s injury. He had never disclosed it and wasn’t comfortable getting into the details except to say he was in pain.

“I had what’s called a pilonidal infection. It’s an infection at the top of your rear,” he said, trying not to crack a smile. “You can look it up. It was really hard for me to bend down. It was really hard for me to make a swing. Walking was actually extremely difficult.

“Just one of those things that happened.”

All part of what already has been a remarkable year.

Scottie Scheffler tees off during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. PHOTO: AP

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