Sept. 4 (UPI) — Jon Rahm fired a 5-under 65 to match world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for the lead after Friday’s first round of the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Rahm, whose 65-foot birdie putt beat Johnson in a one-hole playoff last week at the BMW Championship, had six birdies and one bogey to make up a two-shot deficit at the beginning of the opening round. Johnson was awarded the two-stroke lead as the FedEx Cup’s No. 1 seed.
Johnson, who opened with a 67, had two birdies through his first six holes but had back-to-back bogeys to end the front nine. He then missed a birdie putt from about four feet on his final hole that would have given him the lead.
“The only birdie we didn’t share was mine on 16,” Rahm said. “Besides that, we birdied every single hole together, which is kind of unique, right?”
Rahm and Johnson were tied at 13-under par based on their starting positions in the FedEx Cup finale. Under the current format, it is the second consecutive year that the FedEx Cup leader — who starts at 10-under par with a two-shot advantage — finished the first round in a tie for the lead.
“Technically, it is a continuation,” Rahm said. “I kind of stole that tournament last week from him and he started with a two-shot lead. So hopefully I can steal this one as well.”
Justin Thomas, who began the day at 7-under par, shot a 66 to end up two shots behind the lead. Defending champion Rory McIlroy finished with three straight birdies for a 64, sitting four strokes back of Rahm and Johnson at 9-under par.
Abraham Ancer also had a 64 and sat at 7-under par after the first round. Xander Schauffele (67), Brendon Todd (67), Sungjae Im (68) and Webb Simpson were tied for sixth at 6-under par.