Scottie Scheffler takes charge after opening round of Tour Championship

World number one Scottie Scheffler produced a string of birdies on his final three holes to open up a five-stroke lead after the first round of the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

Scheffler took full advantage of his 10 under start which was awarded for his accumulated points throughout the PGA Tour season, allowing him to begin the day at the top of the leaderboard when the first round kicked off at East Lake in Atlanta on Thursday.

The top 30 players of the season started the Georgia event with their shot advantages determined by their place in the FedEx Cup standings.

Scheffler stayed solid throughout the day but waited until the closing holes to make his move, sinking birdie putts of just over 14 feet at the 16th and 11 feet at the 17th before driving the green for a tap-in birdie at the par-5 last.

Scheffler, already a Masters champion this year, is now in pole position to claim the $18million FedEx Cup grand prize as well.

"I felt like I played good all day and I was only two under so to get those last three birdies at the end was definitely some icing on the cake," he said.

"I played pretty solid. That's always a good way to finish off the round.

"Five-shot lead, but it's only round one. There's still a lot of golf left to play."

American Xander Schauffele's 66 put him second on 10 under, followed by reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who started on three under and shot an impressive bogey-free six-under-par 64 to finish the day in third place.

"Bogey-free rounds are pretty much my favorite," Fitzpatrick said. "A great day. Definitely felt comfortable out there."

Defending champion Patrick Cantlay of the US lies in fourth place thanks to a closing eagle for a 70. He's joined by Chilean Joaquin Niemann whose 64 also left him on eight under.

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, dropped four shots in his first two holes but bounced back to finish the day on seven under after a 67.

"Tomorrow is a pretty pivotal day for the rest of the field just to try to get a little closer to where Scottie is," said McIlroy, who birdied four of his last five holes.

"The last few holes there were huge," he added. "I felt like I played myself out of the tournament the first few holes, and I played myself back into the tournament the last few holes."

British Open champion Cameron Smith, playing for the first time since the opening FedEx Cup playoffs event due to a hip injury, still managed a 67 and joined McIlroy at eight shots back.

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