European Tour trio lead the way

9/23/2010 11:36:00 PM
Luke Donald  (Getty Images)
Luke Donald (Getty Images)
Three European Tour Members are even closer to a possible £7.2million jackpot this weekend after making superb starts to the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

English stars Paul Casey and Luke Donald both kicked off the final leg of the US PGA Tour FedEx Cup play-off series with four under par rounds of 66 to share the lead with Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

Runner-up in the BMW Championship in Chicago two weeks ago - he led by two with six to play and let it slip - Casey is fifth in the standings and victory in the tournament on Sunday will guarantee him the near £6.4million that goes to the overall winner.

Donald, meanwhile, needs to win and hope that current top two Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson are not second to him. And both had disappointing opening rounds.

"It's early days," said the 32 year old after grabbing six birdies. "Anything can happen - but it's nice to position yourself.

"The course is firm and fast and that makes it play difficult, but if I could do the same the next three days I would take it right now."

Casey was in the water on the short sixth, but it was his only mistake.

He also turned in 33 and then picked up more shots on the tenth and long 15th.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, had two eagles on the back nine, but still had to settle for a one under 69.

Needing a top two finish to take over as World Number One from Tiger Woods at the 12th attempt this year, Mickelson sank a 115 yard pitch for a two at the 12th and then rolled in a 14 foot putt three holes later for his second eagle.

He was playing with Martin Laird, but the Scot is in joint last place in the elite 30-man field after a five over 75 that contained double bogeys at the sixth and 16th.

Justin Rose was only one better and their hopes of becoming FedEx champion nosedived as a result.

Points leader Kuchar, despite chipping in for an eagle of his own on the 15th, is six behind after a 72 and Johnson one further back. They lie 19th and 20th.

Casey commented: "I'm very happy with that. This is a course which if you play a couple under par every day you are going to put yourself in a wonderful position."