ATLANTA, Sep 14 (Reuters) South African Tim Clark, helped by a chip-in for eagle on the 15th hole, equalled the course record to grab a one-shot lead in the weather-hit opening round of the Tour Championship.
Bidding for a maiden PGA Tour title, Clark also reeled off six birdies on his way to a flawless eight-under-par 62 on receptive greens at a damp East Lake Golf Club.
British Open champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland birdied the last four holes for a 63, finishing one ahead of burly American John Rollins.
Tiger Woods lurked four strokes off the pace with seven holes remaining when play was suspended for the day.
Just over three hours of action were wiped out in the afternoon because of the threat of lightning in the fourth and final event of the inaugural FedExCup playoff series.
World number one Woods, who birdied the first three holes, had struck his tee shot to nine feet at the par-three 11th when the siren sounded for the final time.
He narrowly missed his birdie attempt and tapped in for par before play ended for the day.
''I hit it pretty good today and somehow just knocked those putts in,'' the 1999 champion told reporters after piling up five birdies and one bogey.
HEAVILY FANCIED Woods, who heads the points standings after winning the BMW Championship on Sunday, is heavily fancied to secure the 10 million dollars bonus as the first FedExCup champion.
He is well ahead of his two main rivals for the trophy with fellow Americans Phil Mickelson one under after 12 holes and Steve Stricker one over after 11. Only 10 players in the 30-strong field completed the opening round on Thursday.
Clark was delighted after covering the back nine in a blistering five-under 30 for his lowest score on the PGA Tour.
''I'm very pleased with that,'' the 31-year-old said after equalling the course record set by American Bart Bryant in the opening round in 2005.
''Having a good Sunday round last week, I had a bit of confidence. I got the speed of the greens early and was able to make some putts.
''I just wish I had this back nine on Sunday as I would have had a 59,'' he added, referring to his outward 29 in the final round of the BMW Championship at Cog Hill outside Chicago.
FORTUNATE EAGLE Clark, a runner-up four times since joining the PGA Tour in 2001, conceded he had been fortunate to eagle the par-five 15th after chipping in from 60 feet.
''Even I will admit that was a bit lucky, there was a bit of speed on that one going down there,'' he said.
Harrington, who won his first major title in July after beating Sergio Garcia in a playoff at Carnoustie, felt he had benefited from the three-hour weather delay.
''I kind of got frustrated through the front nine and I felt a lot sharper when I came back out,'' he said.
''Four birdies to finish is always going to be a good day and the golf course is set up for scoring with the soft greens.
On the back nine, I played some really exciting golf.'' Tee times for the second round have been brought forward by almost three hours with the remnants of Hurricane Humberto expected to move into the Atlanta area in the afternoon today.
Showers and thunderstorms are predicted later today before the cold front rolls out early tomorrow. Dry weather is forecast for the weekend.
REUTERS BJR RAI1015