The only thing that could possibly ramp up still more interest in the Ryder Cup next week would be a Tiger Woods victory here at the Tour Championship at East Lake.
On a hot, stifling day, the 42-year-old took a buoyant opening stride towards that goal with an impressive 65 to share the first round lead with Ryder Cup team mate Rickie Fowler.
Woods has done everything bar win during the 17 events to date in his extraordinary comeback that has seen him rise from outside the top 1,000 in the world to 21st.
Tiger Woods celebrates on his way to a round of 65 at the Tour Championship in East Lake
Tour Championship: First round leaderboard
T1 Rickie Fowler
T1 Tiger Woods
T3 Gary Woodland
T3 Justin Rose
T5 Rory McIlroy
T5 Justin Thomas
T5 Tony Finau
What a story it would be if his first win for five years, and the 80th on the PGA Tour in his incredible career, happened at this event, so close to the biennial dust-up in Versailles.
As so often in his great years, Woods put in a grandstand finish at the par five 18th, sliding home a 28ft eagle putt to send the crowd into rapture.
Woods began this season-ending event with only a small chance of claiming the $10 million bonus that goes to the overall winner of the FedEx Cup play-offs, and only a victory here would change that.
The aces remain with the players in the top five on the FedEx list – Woods was 20th – with their destiny in their own hands, knowing a victory would guarantee them the mammoth bonus.
Of the five, the one happiest with his day’s work was the new world No 1, Justin Rose, who marked his recently acquired status with a fine 66, although defending champion Justin Thomas and in-form Tony Finau left content as well following rounds of 67.
The former world No 1 looks over the water hazard on the 18th hole during his first round
Woods shares the overnight lead with his soon-to-be Ryder Cup team-mate Rickie Fowler
Rose looked nervous at the start but three birdies in a row around the turn changed the outlook of his round, as did a typically strong birdie-birdie finish. With the FedEx leader Bryson DeChambeau shooting 71, the 38-year-old Englishman ended the day as the man projected to win the bonus, although that counts for little at this stage.
The immaculately-manicured fairways, lightning fast greens and the genteel garden party atmosphere might be a world away from what awaits the 17 members of the 30 man field who will move on to France next week. But that won’t stop everyone from the two captains downwards from assessing their form.
Accordingly, Thomas Bjorn and those clothed in blue and gold will be buoyed by the 67 shot by Rory McIlroy, while Englishman Paul Casey and Spaniard Jon Rahm shot 68. Tommy Fleetwood carded a 69.
Meanwhile, at the Portugal Masters, the good news continued as controversial wild card pick Sergio Garcia opened with an encouraging 66, while Thorbjorn Olesen shot 68.
Justin Rose, the new world No 1, sits just one shot behind the leaders after the first round