Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the 2016 FedEx Cup champion who is No. 3 in the standings, is tied for 25th at 69, while 2015 FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth (No. 44) shot 70 and is in a tie for 36th that includes Dustin Johnson (No. 10) and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (No. 9).
The 2017 US PGA Championship victor is atop the leaderboard alongside fellow American Jason Kokrak at Medinah Country Club, where the pair equalled the course record.
The Northern Irishman is four shots behind clubhouse leaders Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak in the second FedEx Cup play-off event. Thomas already is set for the Tour Championship next week and the chase for FedEx Cup and its $15-million prize.
Woods will arrive at the course Friday in a tie for 50th place.
"I've been so burned out, " Koepka said. "I've said in the past, years ago, he just would have continued to play through all of this".
"I was sitting on the plane, tied 30th, delighted to go to East Lake, and then being told the plane is going somewhere else, " Poulter said. This week he was looking better and he certainly performed better.
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From the second ball he faced, he swiped Woakes into the leg side and, after a classical back-foot drive, edged another four. After England were heavily beaten in the first Test, Sunday could see them back in the series, or the Ashes as good as gone.
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"I tried to make tweaks all year, trying to ease the stress off my back while I was still playing".
Woods said, "I feel good".
"It's hard enough to win golf tournaments when you're all starting on a level playing field, but whenever it's staggered like that, it's a tough proposition if someone like Brooks Koepka or Patrick Reed is starting two or three shots ahead of you".
Five Americans shared second on 66, including 49-year-old Jim Furyk, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Cantlay.
"Yeah, there was lots of good golf out there today", he said after his round. "Three- to 5-under par would have been a good score considering how well I hit it". He did that with a victory at the Barracuda Championship, and along with his runner-up finish in Minnesota, he comes into this week at No. 57 with an outside shot at the Tour Championship.
FedEx Cup permutations: Who will win the trophy? I'm trying to change my plane a little bit, trying to get back to how I kind of had it at Augusta.
Kokrak needs to move past two rivals in points to qualify for next week at East Lake.