ATLANTA (AP) — 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.
Perhaps he could learn from Stenson how to cope with a frustrating day on the golf course.
Or maybe not.
"I don't think I'm the right person," Stenson said.
What made Stenson's round so remarkable was that just three days ago, his emotions were boiling. Angry at the way he was playing — and the fact he had to be at Conway Farms north of Chicago for a Monday finish brought on by rain — that he smashed his driver into the ground so hard that the head snapped out. Then, he took out his frustrations by damaging his locker.
And that was just one tournament after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"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. I stayed very level-headed — kept the head on, both myself and drivers, and played a great round of golf."
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 — the front nine — on Tuesday and iced his wrist and took anti-inflammatories. It seemed to have worked.
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