Justin Rose aiming to catch leader Justin Thomas in new FedEx Cup format

Justin Thomas will start in the lead at the Tour Championship, but Justin Rose remains hopeful he can defend his FedEx Cup title.

Justin Rose and Justin Thomas.   -  Getty Images

Justin Rose hopes he can catch up with Justin Thomas and successfully defend his FedEx Cup crown at the season-ending Tour Championship.

Due to a revamped format, Thomas - FedEx Cup winner in 2017 - will already be sitting at the top of the leaderboard on 10 under when the 30-player event begins on Thursday in Atlanta.

Rose heads to East Lake as the defending FedEx Cup champion, though he has plenty of work to do from his starting position at two under par, eight strokes back.

However, the Englishman is relishing the challenge of trying to retain his title, something that is now possible from his position in the field thanks to the changes made to the tournament's structure.

"There's a couple of Justins that have gone back to back, but not the same person," Rose told a news conference.

"With Justin Thomas' position this year, it could be a three-peat for our name, but I'm going to try and give him a run.

"I start at two under, so you look at it two [shots closer to the lead] a day. The way I look at is that five guys are five under and better, so one of those guys is going to play great. That puts it at maybe 13 under plus [to win]

"If I can kind of whittle into the lead and I can pull two or three back on day one, your eye is on the prize. If I slip back 10 or 11 after day one, suddenly you're thinking about how to get the most out of the week."

Rory McIlroy had questioned whether the new format is be the best way to improve on the FedEx Cup, though Rose is fascinated to see how it plays out.

"If you were leading the FedExCup in the past and you had a poor week, you'd finish maybe second, possibly third. You have a poor week now and you can finish 12th, 15th, 18th, 20th," he said.

"There's a lot more volatility, I think, with this format, which is what play-off golf is all about, I guess. It's the guys basically bringing their best golf when it counts the most.

"It's going to be interesting to see if the guys behind play with more freedom."