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Piercy has a mathematical chance to win the $10 million, though the odds are ridiculously long. For starters, he would have to win and McIlroy would have to finish last.

“My chances are slim and none. I think slim is about to leave the building,” Piercy said. “If I win, I finish second (in the FedEx Cup.). It’s still a million-and-a-half for first place, and another $3 million for the FedEx, so I’ll take $4.5 million. That would be sweet.”

There’s something for everyone at this Tour Championship, mostly money.

For the fans, Thursday offered yet another pairing of golf’s two hottest properties. This was the fifth time in the FedEx Cup playoffs that Woods and McIlroy have been in the same group, and while Woods keeps winning the individual battles — this was the fourth time he had the lower score while playing with Boy Wonder — McIlroy is 2-0 when it comes to winning playoff events.

As usual, Woods didn’t read too much into that.

“I enjoy playing with Rory,” he said. “He’s a great kid. Over the years, there are certain pairings for me that I’ve enjoyed, and Rory is one of them.”

A boisterous gallery lined the fairways and crowded behind every green to see the latest edition of Tiger and Rory, and they didn’t disappoint. McIlroy is playing East Lake for the first time, and he struggled with the Bermuda rough around the greens.

“If you don’t hit fairways, it’s hard,” McIlroy said. “If you hit the ball in the rough here, it’s very, very difficult to get any control on your ball.”

Woods holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the second hole and stuffed a wedge into 5 feet on the third to get on track. He made bogey from the bunker on No. 4, and took another bogey on the 14th when his drive sailed into the rough. The Bermuda grass isn’t high, but it’s thin enough for the ball to sink to the bottom and make it difficult to reach the green, much less keep it on the green.

“Trouble is just right there in front of you,” Woods said. “It’s very simple, but it’s hard. It’s rare that you see guys go low here, but it’s very simple. Really, not a lot of trouble out here, but guys just have a hard time getting it low out there.”

McIlroy didn’t feel he was at a disadvantage playing the Tour Championship for the first time. He saw the course as Woods did — keep it in play, keep the ball below the hole.

“I felt like I hit the ball pretty good,” McIlroy said. “So just go out there tomorrow and try to play the same way, and maybe hole a few more putts and turn what I shot today into something in the mid-60s.”