Stenson Surges, Woods Wobbles
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/20/13
Golf's pontificating prognosticators preached and predicted that Tiger Woods was the favorite to win this year's Tour Championship, the finale of the 2013 PGA Tour season. But with Sweden's Henrik Stenson as his playing partner, Tiger stumbled out of the gate — and Stenson torched the opening nine on his way to the opening-round lead.

The six-foot-two golfer from Gothenburg birdied the second hole, then notched birds on four straight (4 through 7) to ease his way around East Lake's opening nine in 30. Stenson pulled into the clubhouse with a 64, one shot ahead of Aussie Adam Scott and two ahead of the previously-fashion-challenged Billy Horschel and bow-hunting enthusiast Steve Stricker. Stenson took advantage of gorgeous weather and increasingly strong play — and knew it:
"When it's your day, you're hitting good shots and getting them as close as I got them. It's a golf course that it's hard to play well out of the rough, that's for sure, and I definitely hit a lot of fairways and greens.

"Just a very good round of golf but it's still very early in the tournament. One day down, got another three to go."
Specifically, Stenson recovered from a spot of bother at last week's BMW Championship to turn in some fine iron play, hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Woods, on the other hand, couldn't make birdie at all on Thursday — only the seventh time in his entire PGA Tour career that he played 18 holes without carding a birdie. Bogeys at 5, 10, and 14 left Woods with a 73, putting him in 29th place, one ahead of PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, who shot 74. For some reason, though, this is the third time it has happened to Woods at East Lake. We would tell you what Woods said after the round, but he bypassed reporters without a single word.

Back on the first page of the leaderboard, Roberto Castro is alone in fifth place after a five-birdie, single-bogey 67. The Georgia Tech graduate has quietly had a fairly strong season, buoyed mostly by a solo second-place finish at the AT&T National at Congressional in June and two other top-ten finishes. A gaggle of eight golfers is tied for sixth; Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Canada's Graham DeLaet, and hot rookie Jordan Spieth all carded 68 on Thursday.

Can Woods come back from nine down to win this thing? Given his long history of stunning finishes, we would be foolish to write off the 14-time major champion. After all, he did win the Bridgestone in Ohio and finished T-2 at The Barclays in New Jersey. But this writer doesn't think that "miracle finish" will happen at East Lake.

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Image via Flickr, Keith Allison

[ comments ]
slimpks1850 says:
The Big Swede!!!
Duke of Hazards says:
Can't make birdies when you're leaving your putts 5 feet short. Hit it Alice!
[ post comment ]
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