The week began with Greg Norman saying that Woods was intimidated by McIlroy, a suggestion that both players found amusing. While it's doubtful that inspired Woods, he played as if he wasn't ready to let McIlroy win a third straight playoff event and capture the FedEx Cup.
McIlroy, who has won three of his last four tournaments, and Woods are among the top five seeds at East Lake who only have to win the Tour Championship to claim the largest payoff in golf. Woods wasn't interested in what anyone else was doing.
"Just winning," he said. "Winning takes care of everything."
Rose, who hasn't won since the World Golf Championship at Doral in March, swiftly moved up the leaderboard late in his round with three birdies over the last five holes.
Scott Piercy ran off three straight birdies late in his round until he stumbled in the rough behind the 18th green and finished with a double bogey for a 67, tied with Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Bo Van Pelt.
Stricker was the only player in the 30-man field without a bogey.
In Prattville, Ala., Lexi Thompson made a little more history in the Navistar LPGA Classic, opening her title defense with a career-best 9-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead.
Last year, Thompson became the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history at age 16, winning by five strokes. Fifteen-year-old amateur Lydia Ko broke the record last month in the Canadian Women's Open.