Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson put himself in pole position for a $18 million jackpot by firing a seven-under 63 for a two-shot lead after the first round of the PGA Tour's final event of the season, the Tour Championship.
Stenson, who hasn't won a title this year, posted six birdies and an eagle-three at the ninth hole at East Lake Golf Club, where the four-event series culminates.
The 39-year-old topped a leaderboard that featured other international players including Englishman Paul Casey, who was sole second after a 65, and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who shared third with British Open champion Zach Johnson at 66.
New Zealand's Danny Lee shot a one under par 69, to be six shots back from Stenson.
Lee's in good company with new World Number One, Jason Day, also on one under.
Rory McIlroy is tied for third at four under with Open Championship winner, Zach Johnson, while Masters and US Open champion, Jordan Speith, is at two under.
Australian Day, winner of four of his last six events including the PGA Championship and last week's BMW Championship, started with three birdies in a row, but a triple-bogey at the fifth sent him on his way to 69.
American Jordan Spieth, who dominated the first half of the year with wins at the Masters and U.S. Open, registered a 68 to join five other players at two under par.
Stenson, who has three second-place finishes on the PGA Tour this year and another on the European Tour, pounded his tee shots, ripped approaches with laser-like accuracy and putted the lightning-fast greens with a deft touch.
An overcast day produced some late afternoon rain that seemed to cool off Stenson, who reached eight-under by the 12th hole but finished with five pars and his lone bogey at the 17th.
Yet Stenson occupied the driver's seat at East Lake as the initial 30-man field for the elite tournament shrank to 28 after 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa withdrew after 13 holes due to a hamstring injury.
Jim Furyk, the 2010 FedExCup winner, pulled out before the tournament because of a wrist injury.
Runner-up finishes at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship FedExCup events had pushed Stenson into the top five on the points list, meaning a victory in Atlanta would clinch the overall grand prize for the Swede.