Justin Thomas insisted he will be "fine" after losing his FedEx Cup cushion in round one of the season-ending Tour Championship.

BMW Championship winner Thomas had a two-stroke advantage after the format change for the Tour Championship at East Lake this week.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players started on different scores – with Thomas top of the leaderboard at 10 under prior to round one.

However, Thomas ended Thursday's round tied for the one-shot lead alongside Xander Schauffele (64) and Brooks Koepka (67).

Thomas – the 2017 FedEx Cup champion – posted an even-par 70 and he said: "I'm fine. I'm tied for the lead.

"I played better than I scored today. I still can't believe those two short putts. I hit them where I wanted to.

"I feel like I played a lot of good golf through those last five holes. I'll be fine."

Thomas endured a mediocre opening in Atlanta, where a double-bogey and a pair of bogeys to go with four birdies saw his advantage evaporate.

"It was frustrating obviously because they were so close," the American star said. "To drive it as bad or hit as few fairways as I did through 13 holes and miss a couple of putts, to come in to the house at 10 under feels pretty good."

While Thomas made a slow start, countryman Schauffele catapulted himself up the leaderboard thanks to the best round of the day.

Schauffele, who was six shots adrift when he teed off, carded a six-under-par 64 to move into a three-way tie for the lead.

Winner of the 2017 Tour Championship as he was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Schauffele said: "It was a good day. I told myself I'd keep my head down all of Thursday. The plan is to keep it down [Friday] and most of Saturday. It seemed to work today."

Koepka was third in the standings and three strokes behind Thomas before the FedEx Cup decider got underway on Thursday.

The four-time major champion had five birdies and two bogeys in a relatively steady opening to his campaign.

"It's nice to be tied for the last after the first day,'' he said. "I'm not very good at getting off to good starts, so I usually never get in that position. But it's nice. Three more days to grind it out and finish the year strong.''

Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka are in a three-way tie with Xander Schauffele for the Tour Championship lead after the opening round.

The trio ended Thursday level at 10 under in the FedEx Cup decider, despite 2017 winner Schauffele producing the best round of the day via a six-under-par 64.

BMW Championship winner Thomas entered the tournament with a two-stroke advantage after the format change for the season-ending event at East Lake.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players started on different scores – with Thomas top of the leaderboard prior to round one.

Schauffele was six shots adrift when play got underway but the American's bogey-free round, which included six birdies, and coupled with Thomas' even-par 70 saw him earn a share of the one-stroke lead.

It was a low-key start from Thomas, who is eyeing his second FedEx Cup title after claiming the trophy in 2017.

Afforded a head start thanks to his BMW Championship triumph, Thomas endured a mediocre opening in Atlanta, where a double-bogey and a pair of bogeys to go with four birdies saw his advantage evaporate.

Four-time major champion Koepka used a three-under-par 67 to catapult himself into a share of the first-round lead on Thursday.

Koepka, who was three shots behind Thomas at the start of the day, had five birdies and two birdies in a relatively steady opening to his campaign.

The American star finished with a flurry, birdieing three of his final four holes to join Schauffele and Thomas atop the standings.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy is a shot off the pace heading into the second round thanks to his 66.

The 2016 FedEx Cup champion only dropped one shot, recording five birdies to be in solo possession of fourth spot, ahead of Matt Kuchar (66) and Patrick Cantlay (70).

It was a difficult day for Dustin Johnson, who struggled to a three-over-par 73 to be even par and tied for 23rd in the 30-man field at the end of the first round.

Brooks Koepka is ready to pay Justin Thomas after the Tour Championship as he reflected on the "stupid bet" he made with his American countryman.

Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the season-ending PGA Tour event starting at East Lake on Thursday, with Koepka three shots adrift.

But it seems Thomas is just about assured of at least one victory over Koepka after the two put a bet on for most hole-outs, the 2017 US PGA Championship winner stretching his lead during the BMW Championship.

Koepka said it was a silly bet to place and he is prepared to pay Thomas on Sunday.

"We were in Korea, we were playing together and we were talking about how all through the year we were going to have little action on how many times we hole-out," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I can't even remember the last time I holed out. I've got zero … I don't hole-out very much so it was a stupid bet on my part."

Koepka added: "I'll pay him on Sunday."

While he may lose that, Koepka still has a chance in the FedEx Cup despite the new format for the Tour Championship leaving him starting with a three-shot deficit.

The four-time major champion is not changing his approach as he eyes a first FedEx Cup title.

"It's another golf tournament – go out and try to win it. That's what you do every time you tee it up," Koepka said.

"Take one week at a time, go with the process and see where it puts you. Obviously I've got a good chance here, being third in the FedEx Cup, having a chance to win it.

"It's important, but I'm just going to go out and play some good golf this week."

Justin Rose hopes he can catch up with Justin Thomas and successfully defend his FedEx Cup crown at the season-ending Tour Championship.

Due to a revamped format, Thomas - FedEx Cup winner in 2017 - will already be sitting at the top of the leaderboard on 10 under when the 30-player event begins on Thursday in Atlanta.

Rose heads to East Lake as the defending FedEx Cup champion, though he has plenty of work to do from his starting position at two under par, eight strokes back.

However, the Englishman is relishing the challenge of trying to retain his title, something that is now possible from his position in the field thanks to the changes made to the tournament's structure.

"There's a couple of Justins that have gone back to back, but not the same person," Rose told a news conference.

"With Justin Thomas' position this year, it could be a three-peat for our name, but I'm going to try and give him a run.

"I start at two under, so you look at it two [shots closer to the lead] a day. The way I look at is that five guys are five under and better, so one of those guys is going to play great. That puts it at maybe 13 under plus [to win]

"If I can kind of whittle into the lead and I can pull two or three back on day one, your eye is on the prize. If I slip back 10 or 11 after day one, suddenly you're thinking about how to get the most out of the week."

Rory McIlroy had questioned whether the new format is be the best way to improve on the FedEx Cup, though Rose is fascinated to see how it plays out.

"If you were leading the FedExCup in the past and you had a poor week, you'd finish maybe second, possibly third. You have a poor week now and you can finish 12th, 15th, 18th, 20th," he said.

"There's a lot more volatility, I think, with this format, which is what play-off golf is all about, I guess. It's the guys basically bringing their best golf when it counts the most.

"It's going to be interesting to see if the guys behind play with more freedom."

Rory McIlroy is uncertain if the new format of the Tour Championship will help establish the FedEx Cup finale as an elite competition comparable to golf's four majors.

Justin Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the end-of-season tournament at East Lake after the format was altered.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players will start on different scores – with Thomas, who claimed a three-shot win at the BMW Championship - top of the 30-player leaderboard before the event begins on Thursday.

Though McIlroy sees the benefits of the new format, the four-time major winner is unsure over if the rule change is the best way to improve the prestige of the Tour Championship.

"If the FedEx Cup wants to have this legacy in the game like other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?" McIlroy said in a news conference.

"That's my only thing. I get it from a fan experience and giving guys who have played better through the year an advantage, but at the same time, I don't know.

"It'll make it sweeter for a guy who starts at even or one-under-par and goes through all the field and wins. Come back to me on Monday and I'll tell you whether it's worked or not."

McIlroy will start in fifth on the leaderboard, with Patrick Reed (-6), Brooks Koepka (-7) and Patrick Cantlay (-8) between the Northern Irishman and Thomas, who is at 10 under.

"Everyone's goal coming into this week was to be on that 10-under mark," added McIlroy. "Obviously, JT is there and there's a couple of guys between myself and him.

"It's a different format this year, it's more the psychology of it. I'm starting five back, but it's very different. We're all creatures of habit and it seems very different that you're starting at a different position to the rest of the field.

"At the same time, you have to just control what you can, play the best golf that you can and hopefully if you play four good rounds then that's the lowest number at the end of the week.

"In past Tour Championships, guys from 15 to 30 had a chance to win the Championship but not really the FedEx Cup. I think those guys have a much better chance this week. I can see a scenario where 15 guys have a chance to win the entire thing.

"It'll be exciting, it'll be different, but you've just got to go out there and play good golf, not look at what other guys are doing and trust that by the end of the week things will even out."

FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas is not interested in the increased prize money for this year's championship, insisting his focus is on becoming "the best player that ever walked the planet".

In the new format, Thomas starts this week's season-ending Tour Championship on 10 under par, giving him a two-stroke lead over second-placed Patrick Cantlay at the top of the standings.

As well as the alteration to the tournament set-up, the prize pot has also changed, with an increase from $10million to $15m for the winner.

Yet despite this considerable rise, Thomas, who is bidding to win the FedEx Cup for a second time in three years, is not motivated by the money on offer.

"This week is not going to change my life - that's unbelievable, because it's an extremely substantial amount of money," he told a news conference.

"How FedEx has stepped up to take care of us players is crazy, it's unbelievable. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have thought that was possible.

"But I'm not going to change the way I live my life if I win that. Money has never driven me, I hope it never will.

"I play to win trophies and win championships and be the best player that ever walked the planet. That's all I play for. Money is a great consolation and a great thing to have.

"It's bizarre; I've never had a putt on a last hole of a tournament where I'm like: ‘Man if I make this, I finish solo second, versus if I miss this, it's a three-way tie for whatever' - a $500,000 putt.

"Whereas I go and play a money game at home and this putt is for $200 on the last hole and I have to physically give my friend $200? That makes me nervous.

"I'm not saying I don't have a rush out here. But that's fun. This is fun, too, but that's different.

"I don't know, I'm sure there is a form [amount] of money that might get me to say that, but I truly don't think that way or play that way."

Giving further evidence to his claims, Thomas admitted that his previous FedEx Cup triumph in 2017 felt like a consolation prize after failing to win the Tour Championship in the previous format.

He is determined to make sure the same does not happen again this year, too.

"One hundred per cent, yeah, it would irk me," he said. "There are world ranking points on the line. I want to beat everybody every week I play.

"Going into this week in 2017, there was only a couple of people who had won six times in a year and I wanted to be one of those people. I was p***ed, to be perfectly honest, that I didn't win.

"I think a lot of people were shocked and a little upset at how I handled just winning the FedEx Cup and $10m, but I was like: 'I just lost a golf tournament by one'. I should have won the tournament, I had a great chance.

"In the grand scheme of things, it was still a great year, my best to date, but my competitive nature is never going to be okay losing by one even if I get a consolation - a really, really good consolation at that."

Tiger Woods admits missing out on this week's Tour Championship is a blow, but nothing will take away special memories of when "all hell broke loose" during last year's triumph.

Despite winning the Masters in April, for his first major title in 11 years, the 43-year-old has not produced the consistency required to finish in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Woods is joined on the sidelines by Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, among a host of star names who will be absent from the East Lake action on Thursday.

A $15million top prize is on offer, but it was not about the money for Woods last year as he won by two shots for his first tournament win in five years.

Back injury strife had raised concerns over whether Woods would ever again be a contender, but he carried off the trophy on an emotional Sunday in Atlanta, and used that as a platform to build towards the Masters.

Now though, Woods has to suck up the pain of failing to make the elite field.

"It was disappointing not to make it," Woods said. "Last year culminated in a great win, and it turned into what happened, I'm sure, at Augusta, because I was able to prove to myself that I could win again.

"I had come close a couple times and wasn't able to take it over the line, and finally I was able to do that.

"And now I didn't qualify for that event, to go back there, and I wouldn't say quite defend it, but at least be a part of it and play in it. I wasn't able to do that.

"So yeah, it is frustrating. It is disappointing. But that's the way it goes."

Woods was speaking in a teleconference looking ahead to the Presidents Cup in December, when he will captain a United States team in Australia. He has not ruled out playing in the match, too.

Should he find anything close to the form that made him a winner at the Tour Championship 12 months ago, Woods would be an asset to any team.

As he approached the 18th green on the final round at East Lake, enormous crowds flocked behind the American, energised and eager to see Woods polish off a famous victory.

"It gives me chills almost every single time I see it," Woods said. "At the time, it didn't seem like that because I didn't really look back. I only looked back a couple of times over my right shoulder."

Speaking on the PGA Tour website, Woods recalled how "everyone just busted loose behind us and all hell broke loose".

"I got on the green, I looked, and I'm like, Holy cow, there's a lot of people out there," he said.

Rory McIlroy was partnering Woods in the final round but fell away from contention and the Northern Irishman found appreciating the unfolding story alongside him to be difficult.

But he recalled looking back up the fairway as Woods tapped in to win and said the scene "was unbelievable".

"Everyone was so happy for him," McIlroy said.

"People need external things to make themselves happy and remind themselves of the good old days or whatever, and that’s what it was like; Tiger was winning a golf tournament, and it was the good old days."

United States captain Tiger Woods has not ruled out playing at the Presidents Cup, saying the final decision would be his.

Woods will lead USA against the International team in Melbourne in December as they chase an eighth straight Presidents Cup win.

Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson headline a star-studded USA outfit, but Woods may yet choose himself as a captain's pick.

"My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys," the 15-time major champion told reporters on Monday.

"That's what I'm trying to do. We'll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice-captains.

"That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play. Ultimately, it's going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain.

"But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made."

Woods has struggled since winning the Masters in April, missing two cuts and withdrawing from the Northern Trust as he failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

He finished 13th in the Presidents Cup standings for USA, behind the eight qualified players – Koepka, Thomas, Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau – and Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed.

Tiger Woods will have to make do with watching the Tour Championship on television after he failed to qualify for the PGA Tour's season-ending event.

Woods needed to finish 11th or better at the BMW Championship to make sure he would be inside the top 30 in the FedExCup points table, guaranteeing a place in the field for next week's finale.

However, successive one-under rounds left him with too much work to do over the weekend, meaning he will not be able to defend his title at East Lake.

The 15-time major winner ended a five-year wait for a tournament win at last year's Tour Championship having at one stage slipped to as low as 1,199 in the world rankings.

"Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would've been nice to go back there, but I'll be watching the guys on TV," Woods said after his final round at Medinah, a course where he has twice won majors.

Woods had given himself hope of keeping his 2019 season alive with a 67 in the third round, only to finish up on in a tie for 37th on six under after signing for a score of 72 on Sunday.

"It was a little bit frustrating that I didn't have the short game I needed to make a run," he said. "I made too many bogeys around the greens.

"I had it two under par early and was giving myself at least an outside chance of getting to my number. I felt like if I shot six under then I might have moved on."

Despite having to watch the Tour Championship from afar, Woods was able to reflect positively on a year that saw him win the Masters at Augusta.

"[It was] very special to win my 15th major and get my fifth jacket," he told the PGA Tour. "The rest of the tournaments I didn't really play as well as I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I'm the one with the green jacket."

Justin Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the Tour Championship at East Lake after the format change for the season-ending tournament.

Thomas claimed a three-shot win at the BMW Championship on Sunday, moving top of the FedEx Cup standings.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players will start on different scores – with Thomas top of the leaderboard before the event begins on Thursday.

Here is what the leaderboard looks like after the BMW Championship, featuring all 30 players who qualified.

-10: Justin Thomas
-8: Patrick Cantlay
-7: Brooks Koepka
-6: Patrick Reed
-5: Rory McIlroy

Top 5 in the #FedExCup heading into @EastLakeGC:

1. @JustinThomas34 
2. Patrick Cantlay
3. @BKoepka
4. @PReedGolf
5. @McIlroyRory  pic.twitter.com/8SjEvALxfh

— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) August 18, 2019 -4: Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer
-3: Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
-2: Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner
-1: Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Im Sung-jae, Chez Reavie
E: Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak

Justin Thomas closed out his first win of the year with a three-stroke victory at the BMW Championship on Sunday.

Thomas made waves at Medinah with his record-breaking round – a 61 – on Saturday and the American backed it up.

The 2017 US PGA Championship winner carded a four-under 68 in the final round to get to 25 under, winning the tournament and moving top of the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Tour Championship.

The win was Thomas' 10th career PGA Tour title and it came with some impressive shots.

He had a string of birdies through his back nine, four through his last eight holes, to help keep the rest of the field at bay.

Thomas held off a red-hot Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama, who both matched or shot their lowest rounds of the week.

Cantlay finished solo second (22 under) after nine birdies helped him to a seven-under 65. He was mere inches away from putting even more pressure on Thomas but just missed an eagle putt after driving the 15th green.

Matsuyama had the lowest round of the day with a 63 to jump into third place at 20 under. The 36-hole leader had set the previous record at Medinah before Thomas broke it on Saturday, and got back to form on Sunday.

He was mistake-free through the front nine with five birdies and matched that after the turn. However, a bogey on the par-four 16th stopped Matsuyama from besting his low round of the week.

Tony Finau finished in fourth place at 18 under while Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker tied for fifth at 16 under.

Corey Conners and Lucas Glover both placed seventh at 15 under and Adam Scott and Kevin Kisner rounded out the top finishers in a tie for ninth at 14 under.

As far as excuses go for potentially missing a tee-off time, Phil Mickelson's reason for the fourth round of the BMW Championship was pretty fair.

The five-time major winner was facing the prospect of missing his allotted slot of 11:52am local time at Medinah on Sunday after the hotel he has been staying at was struck by lightning.

That caused a fire at the establishment and an evacuation of the building, leading Mickelson to ponder whether he would make it on time as he was without his clubs.

"How's this for crazy? My hotel was struck by lightning, I was on [the] top floor, we were evacuated and the place is on fire (only thing of mine on fire this week)," Mickelson tweeted.

"I can't get back into my room and may miss my tee time because I am without clubs and clothes."

Fortunately, emergency services were swiftly on the scene and Mickelson confirmed his belongings had been salvaged safely meaning he was scheduled to play.

"EMT's were awesome! I'm going to make it. Turns out my clubs acted as a fire retardant. Lucky me."

Earlier on Sunday, the BMW Championship's official Twitter account had issued a weather update to fans amid storms in the Chicago area.

Sunday's round will likely be Mickelson's final of the season due to his projected standing of 49th in the FedExCup rankings.

Tiger Woods needed a low number, and he got it during the third round of the BMW Championship thanks to a five-under-par 67.

After Woods, a two-time FedEx Cup champion, shot 71 in each of the first two rounds of the tournament, he was languishing towards the bottom of the pack.

At a time of the year when FedEx Cup points can make or break a season, Woods was in need of an improved performance on Saturday.

And at Medinah Course number three, Woods was finally able to put together a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies.

Woods was hitting the ball as well as he could have, recording his ninth career bogey-free round in the FedExCup Play-offs.

Hideki Matsuyama broke a course record as he claimed a one-stroke lead after the second round at the BMW Championship.

Matsuyama sizzled at Medinah Country Club, where the Japanese carded a nine-under-par 63 to top the leaderboard on Friday.

In the second tournament of the FedEx Cup play-offs, Matsuyama was flawless with his putter – nine birdies highlighting a bogey-free round in Illinois.

Matsuyama birdied five of his opening nine holes and closed the day by gaining back-to-back shots as he improved to 12 under at the halfway stage, ahead of American pair Patrick Cantlay (67) and Tony Finau (66).

Ranked 33rd prior to the event, Matsuyama is projected to move up to second with victory and he said: "I wish I knew why I putted so well today.

"But I was happy that a lot of them went in. As they went in, you start gaining more confidence and as your confidence builds, more putts go in, too."

This was just Matsuyama's day and a statement after Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak tied the course record of 65 in the opening round.

Thomas followed up his course-record performance with a solid 69 to be 10 under through two rounds, while Kokrak (73) dropped into a tie for 21st at six under.

Former world number one and 2012 champion Rory McIlroy posted a second-round 67 as he improved 14 positions to 11th, alongside Kevin Tway (67), Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Kevin Kisner (68) at eight under.

Four-time major winner and US PGA Championship holder Brooks Koepka is seven shots off the pace following his 71, and he is joined by Northern Trust champion Patrick Reed (71).

Star names Jordan Spieth (71), Jason Day (71) and Justin Rose (73) are tied for 40th at three under, a shot better off than Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.

Woods – a two-time BMW Championship winner – is in serious danger of missing the trip to the Tour Championship after carding back-to-back 71s.

Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will qualify and Woods is projected to finish 45th.

Justin Thomas carded an impressive seven-under 65 to take a share of the lead after the opening round of the BMW Championship on Thursday.

The 2017 US PGA Championship winner is atop the leaderboard alongside fellow American Jason Kokrak at Medinah Country Club, where the pair equalled the course record.

Thomas finished his day with seven birdies and no bogeys, while Kokrak dropped just one shot but added an eagle to finish his day in a tie for the lead.

A wrist injury saw Thomas struggle earlier this season, including missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

But he has been good as of late as he finished tied for 11th at The Open and in the top 12 or better in each of his past four tournaments.

"It's weird," he said, via the Golf Channel. "Yeah, I mean, it's been an odd season just because I've missed three tournaments. But the difference with this season and any other season is I'd won.

"I'm playing every bit as good as I have any other year this year, for sure."

Thomas is sitting pretty in getting to the Tour Championship at East Lake next week, starting 15th in the FedEx Cup standings and now projected to be top.

Kokrak needs a good performance after starting 32nd – with the top 30 progressing – and is now projected to be third.

A shot back of the leaders is a group of five – Jim Furyk, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Cantlay.

World number one Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm all opened with four-under 68s, a shot better than Rory McIlroy.

Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods need to climb the leaderboard to reach the Tour Championship.

Spieth carded a two-under 70, while Woods opened with a 71, the duo projected to be outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup as things stand.

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