Recap of the day
First half: Billy Horschel and Patrick Cantlay both carded 5-under-par 65s to jump from also-ran status to genuine contenders for the title. Further down the leaderboard Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau limped home with second failures to break 70 whilst Brooks Koepka slumped to a 78 which left him dead last.
Second half: Time and again it was a tale of two nines. Jon Rahm was 5-under through the turn, 3-over on the way home. Rickie Fowler 2-under on the front nine; 4-over on the back. Rory McIlroy also 2-under through nine; level on the back. Tiger Woods was 3-under through 15 then made double bogey at 16 (but he also birdied 18). And Justin Rose? Like Woods he conquered the run home. That latter pair share the 36-hole lead on 7-under 133, two clear of McIlroy.
Leaderboard: -7 Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, -5 Rory McIlroy, -4 Billy Horschel, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm
Notables: -3 Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, -2 Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, -1 Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, +1 Jason Day, + Phil Mickelson, +6 Bryson DeChambeau, +7 Brooks Koepka
Low round of the day: Horschel and Cantlay
Revised outright betting: Rose 5/2, Woods 13/5, McIlroy 15/2, Thomas 10/1, Rahm 16/1
Saturday weather forecast
In theory the best weather of the week with sunny clear skies, temperatures in the low 80s, and breezes of 6mph.
Leaders at 36 holes
Justin Rose (67, 133) - Stymied by finding only half the fairways and then missing five greens in regulation. But key was his ability to do what most of the other leaders couldn't: He played the back nine not only under par but two swings under it.
Tiger Woods (68, 133) - But for the hacking down 16 for a double bogey-6 the back nine was sensational. He made four birdies from inside 24-feet and missed another.
Rory McIlroy (68, 135) - Almost comically bad from the tee in terms of direction (4 from 14 fairways landed), but missed only four greens in regulation. Two late birdies (15 and 17) tidied the card up but it could have been three but for a failure to get up-and-down at 18.
Tiger Woods (68, 133) - "We're only halfway home. This course, you've got to be so patient. Hard to make birdies and get the ball close. I was very focussed to make birdies on the back nine. The greens are so fast and what I did well was to hit the right angles (into the greens). It's going to be fun tomorrow. I've known Rosey for a long time. But still a lot of golf to go."
Justin Rose (67, 133) - "Obviously people are excited about watching Tiger play again but I can't really think that way. He’s obviously right on form and feeling very comfortable out there, it looks like he’s driving it well, irons have been great all year, looks comfortable with the blade. So it’s exciting for people to get a look at him back at his best and it will be fun to be play with him. I played with him earlier this year in Bay Hill and enjoyed playing with him there. But there’s more on my mind than just playing with Tiger tomorrow for sure."
Rory McIlroy (68, 135) - "There’s still 36 holes to play and I like this golf course. This is my fourth or fifth time at the Tour Championship, and I’ve played it pretty well every time I’ve come here. I think it suits me. It suits the ball striker. I feel like my game has continuously gotten a little bit better over the last few weeks, and I feel in a good place with it."
Jon Rahm (68, 136) - "The front nine is not easy but I played well and then it turned ugly. The wind kind of switched on us playing the back nine and I missed fairways and once you do that it becomes really hard to play this course."
Focus on - Battle for the FedExCup Jackpot
We all know the mantra now. The top five in the FedExCup standings going into the TOUR Championship control their own destiny. In other words, if any of that quintet win, they’re taking home the $10m jackpot.
Top 5 pre-tournament
1. Bryson DeChambeau
2. Justin Rose
3. Tony Finau
4. Dustin Johnson
5. Justin Thomas
Projected Top 5 after R1
1. Justin Rose
2. Tiger Woods
3. Bryson DeChambeau
4. Tony Finau
5. Justin Thomas
What a weekend in prospect. Rose and Woods are in pole position. The Englishman can add lustre to his ascent to the top of the world rankings with victory in the tournament and with it the FedExCup. But a win for Woods, enough for huge headlines in itself, would be even more remarkable should Rose slip into a three-way tie for fifth or worse: He'd bag the FedExCup too, then.
Focus on - The Ryder Cup Phoney War
There are 17 of the Le Golf National-bound 24 players taking part this week – 11 Americans and six from Europe.
After 36 holes, Europe has an edge with five of the six under-par and a combined tally of 14-under. Six of the 11 American are under-par and those struggling drag the combined total down to 8-over.
Focus on - The FedExCup Future
A new handicap system will be used in next year’s TOUR Championship, the FedExCup leader heading into East Lake being placed at the front on the field on 10-under. Second place starts at -8, third at -7, fourth at -6 and fifth at -5. Those ranked 6-10th start at -4, 11-15th -3 and so on down to 26th-30th who start at Evs. Here’s how the field would have stood before the tournament teed off.
-10 Bryson DeChambeau
-8 Justin Rose
-7 Tony Finau
-6 Dustin Johnson
-5 Justin Thomas
-4 Keegan Bradley, Brooks Koepka, Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel, Cameron Smith
-3 Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed
-2 Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Tiger Woods
-1 Aaron Wise, Kevin Na, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Kyle Stanley
Evs Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland, Marc Leishman, Patton Kizzire
So, if we were playing under the 2019 rules this week, how would they stand after day two?
-15 Justin Rose
-9 Tiger Woods, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas
-8 Billy Horschel
-7 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy
-6 Patrick Cantlay
Road to victory at East Lake
2017 Xander Schauffele – R1: 17th, R2: 8th, R3: 2nd
2016 Rory McIlroy – R1: 7th, R2: 5th, R3: 3rd
2015 Jordan Spieth – R1: 5th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Billy Horschel – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2013 Henrik Stenson – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
Notes: Going back to 1998, 17 winners in all, and none were more than five swings back after 36 holes. Phil Mickelson, who was T12 at this stage in 2009, made most ground in terms of spots on the leaderboard.
Fate of the halfway leaders at - where did they finish?
2017 - Justin Thomas - 2nd, Paul Casey - 5th, Webb Simpson - 13th
2016 - Dustin Johnson - 6th
2015 - Henrik Stenson - 2nd
2014 - Billy Horschel - 1st
2013 - Henrik Stenson - 1st
Notes: In 17 years there have been 22 halfway leaders (counting solo and shared) and six have progressed to the win. Three of them had leads of two shots or more, including the two above.
The Roundup: Tiger prowling
Recap of the day