ATLANTA — Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson, the top two seeds in the FedEx Cup, could not have been more different in the opening round of the Tour Championship.
Stenson hardly missed a shot on the front nine. He had such control over his game that six of his first seven iron shots were 10 feet or closer to the hole. He converted five of them for birdies, added a 5-iron from 223 yards to 4 feet for one last birdie on the par-3 18th, and wound up with a 6-under 64 and a one-shot lead at East Lake.
Tiger Woods was the model of frustration.
He missed a short birdie putt on the opening hole that set the tone for a most unusual day. When it was over, Woods failed to make a birdie for only the seventh time in his PGA Tour career — three of them at East Lake. Woods opened with a 73, nine shots behind.
“It’s a nice feeling to hit those kind of shots playing with the world’s best player,” Stenson said. “Normally, it’s him who does it to everyone else, but it was kind of nice to throw a couple at him. We know he didn’t have the best of days, and he’s going to fight hard to try to come back into the tournament. It’s still a long way to go, but it’s always nice to perform the way I did when you’re playing with the world’s best player.”
Woods walked off the course without speaking to reporters.
“I really knew I had to be in a good frame of mind coming out there if I wanted to play good golf this week,” he said. “As some of you noticed, I wasn’t that on Monday when I finished up in Chicago. So it was a good turnaround mentally.”
More than feeling better about his attitude, Stenson was helped by feeling no pain in his left wrist. He suspects he slept it on wrong last weekend, and it reached a point where it hurt to hold a toothbrush. He played only nine holes of practice and iced his wrist and took anti-inflammatories. It seemed to have worked.