Golf-Woods surges into third spot at damp East Lake

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ATLANTA, Sept 14 (Reuters) Tiger Woods reeled off three birdies in four holes to charge into a share of third spot in the weather-delayed first round of the Tour Championship today.

Despite bogeying the par-four 17th, the world number one carded a six-under-par 64 at a damp East Lake Golf Club to finish two shots behind overnight pacesetter Tim Clark of South Africa.

British Open champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland was alone in second place after shooting a 63, with burly American John Rollins and Woods a further stroke adrift.

Title-holder Adam Scott of Australia and Americans Hunter Mahan, Woody Austin and Mark Calcavecchia opened with 65s in the fourth and final event of the inaugural FedExCup playoff series.

Twenty players in the 30-strong field had to complete round one after play was suspended yesterday with three hours wiped out in the afternoon because of the threat of lightning.

FedExCup points leader Woods, four under with seven holes remaining, made the most significant move with a trademark fast start under cloudy skies on Friday morning.

He birdied the 12th, 14th and 15th to close to within a stroke of the lead before bogeying the 17th after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and the left rough with his second shot.

SEVENTH TITLE However, he safely parred the last to stay in the hunt for his seventh title of the year and inaugural FedExCup honours.

Woods ended the opening round well ahead of his two main FedExCup rivals, Phil Mickelson (68) and Steve Stricker (69).

Either Woods or Stricker would claim the million bonus as the inaugural FedExCup champion with victory this week, regardless of where the other players finish.

Mickelson, who skipped last week's BMW Championship won by Woods, would earn the bonus with victory at East Lake, as long as Woods finishes worse than second.

Tee times for the second round were brought forward by almost three hours with the remnants of Hurricane Humberto expected to move into the Atlanta area on Friday afternoon.

Showers and thunderstorms are predicted late today before the cold front rolls out early tomorrow. Dry weather is forecast for the weekend.

Reuters PDS RS2040

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