Clarke, Kelly, Haas share lead
Darren Clarke, Jerry Kelly and Jay Haas share the lead after the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia.
Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
Atlanta:Heavy rain on Thursday morning turned fairways into small rivers, but a new drainage system at East Lake allowed the season-ending Tour Championship to start on time over this testing course near Atlanta, Georgia. Then came the wind, whistling through the trees and making the closing holes play even tougher. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the leading trio had early start times. John Daly was among a group of eight players at one-under par after his round of 69 on Thursday. Singh bogeys Vijay Singh, the number one player in the world, made the game look easy. He fired his approach into two feet on the opening hole for a tap-in birdie. That didn't last long. He took bogey on the fourth hole from a fairway bunker but then rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on the 17th, and suddenly his name was where it has been all year - near the top of the leaderboard among the group at one-under. Phil Mickelson was one-over after a double bogey on the par-four sixth hole. The left-hander was tied with Sergio Garcia and Rory Sabbatini just four shots off the lead. Jerry Kelly might be taking the best approach to the Tour Championship. No wins this year, but he must have done something right to get into the top 30 on the money list. Kelly was four-under until he bogeyed 16 about the time the wind started to gust. Ernie Els had an up-and-down round that included five bogeys and three birdies. He was among a group of five players on two-over. Clarke thrives Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke seems to thrive in the big events, having captured his two US victories at the 2000 Match Play Championship and the 2003 NEC Invitational. Clarke was in decent shape last weekend at Valderrama in Spain until making an 11 on the 17th hole. He was on four-under-par until he also bogeyed the 16th to fall into a share of the lead. Stuart Appleby was on one-under despite carding a double bogey on the on the par-four 12th. Woods struggles Meanwhile, Tiger Woods returned to the field after a three-week honeymoon on his yacht in the Caribbean. Woods struggled to a two-over-par 72, his first round over-par since the PGA Championship. Padraig Harrington eagled the par-five 15th to finish at one-under-par. Victory for the Irishman would make him a PGA Tour member and send Tag Ridings - number 125 on the money list - back to qualifying school and knock Jesper Parnevik (number 40) out of the Masters. Another left-hander, Mike Weir, joined on one-under heading into Friday's second round. (AP)