Justin Thomas just two off the pace after career-best 66 at East Lake

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ATLANTA – On Thursday, Justin Thomas said this year at East Lake would be different. As predictions go, he’s off to a good start.

Thomas opened with a 4-under 66 to gain ground in the strokes-based event that seeds players based on their position on the playoff points list. Dustin Johnson began the finale as the points leader at 10 under, while Thomas started third at 7 under.

“I tried not to look at leaderboards today. I just tried to play golf and get in my own little world and not really worry about what was going on and what those guys were doing or what the guys in front of me were doing,” said Thomas, now 11 under, trailing Johnson and Rahm by two. “I’m trying to beat every person for 72 holes that I’m playing this week, and if that happens to beat everyone else, then so be it.”

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Current FedExCup points standings

After opening his round with back-to-back birdies, Thomas had just a single bogey at the seventh. He converted from 11 feet at the last hole for a closing birdie to match his best career round at East Lake.

Last year, Thomas began the Tour Championship as the points leader, but he was 3 under for the week and finished tied for third, five strokes behind FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy.

“I learned last year I would have rather been at 10 under than I guess 7 [under] where I started at. But that being said, I feel like I’m in a good frame of mind,” he said.