Rose and Woods set pace in Atlanta

Salisbury Journal: Justin Rose hit six birdies in his first round Justin Rose hit six birdies in his first round

Justin Rose believes he benefited from taking a patient approach after a four-under round of 66 saw him share the lead with Tiger Woods after the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The leading duo head a group of four Americans - Scott Piercy, Bo Van Pelt, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker - by one shot in an elite field of 30.

World number one Rory McIlroy is three off the lead after a 69 which featured three birdies and two bogeys.

Rose feels East Lake places a premium on hitting fairways, and after finding just seven he knows he can do better.

"I kind of looked at the leaderboards to gauge how the course was playing and how the boys were doing out there, and obviously I realised it was time to be patient," Rose said on PGATour.com. "No one was really going low. One or two under is going to be a good score today, so I always had that in the back of my mind."

Rose, who carded two bogeys and six birdies - the last of them a curling, long-range effort on the 18th - added: "I scrambled well, my bunker play was sharp. I only hit seven fairways but it shows it comes down to chipping and putting and these greens are so good that when you hit the line they go in."

Woods followed his second bogey of the day with consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th and almost claimed the outright lead when his birdie attempt from 11 feet at the 18th narrowly missed.

The Tour Championship is the last leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs and McIlroy and Woods were paired together again because they are first and second in the points standings. It is winner-take-all between them despite McIlroy storming to victory in the last two tournaments.

In fact, the top five on the table - Nick Watney is third, Phil Mickelson fourth and Brandt Snedeker fifth - all know that if they win on Sunday they not only take the tournament first prize of nearly £900,000, but also the FedEx bonus of more than £6.1million.

And such is the system that all 30 players in the field, including McIlroy's Ryder Cup team-mates Rose, Lee Westwood (72), Luke Donald (71) and Sergio Garcia (69), all have a chance of scooping the bonus payment.

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