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Aaron Wise plays as a single, shoots first-round 65 to vault up leaderboard

The Tour Championship typically consists of 30 players, which makes for nice, easy twosomes every day at the PGA Tour’s season finale.

However, Will Zalatoris being forced to withdraw earlier in the week due to injury means one player will head to the first tee every morning to play 18 holes by himself.

That player was Aaron Wise in the opening round at East Lake, and the former Oregon Duck made the most of his roughly three hours on the golf course.

After opening with five straight pars, the world No. 40 birdied five of his final 13 holes and didn’t record a bogey on the day. His 5-under 65 vaulted him inside the top 10 as he finished his day with the leaders making their way through the front nine.

Full-field scores from Tour Championship

Wise couldn’t recall a time he had ever played as a single in a tournament.

“It was different. It was interesting to start,” Wise said. “I felt a little weird starting off the round, but once I settled in there walking to three tee or so, felt pretty normal, honestly felt kind of nice because I could go at my own pace and do what I wanted.

“But definitely pros and cons to it because you don’t get to see anyone else’s shots, you don’t get to see anyone else’s putts or anything like that. Luckily I was having a good day, and just kind of stayed in my groove and stayed to myself, and it worked out well.”

Wise started at even par, 10 shots back of Scottie Scheffler’s lead. He said after his first round that he just had to put the leaderboard out of his head and try to shoot the best number possible.

“Yeah, it’s chipping away, right?” Wise said. “Even if you don’t get there, you can probably get pretty close if you do play well … But yes, it’s weird walking up 7 and I’m 1 under on the round, and I look up and it says 10 under is leading. I’m like, well, no one is 10-under, but I get it.

“So it’s definitely an interesting scenario, but I do feel like it makes it super easy for the fans to understand what’s going on, and I do love the fact that on 18 you see someone make a putt to win the tournament, which also wins the FedExCup, where with the points system you didn’t quite have that.”