Stenson one ahead, Woods struggles to 73

ATLANTA. In-form Swede Henrik Stenson, boosted by a red-hot front nine, totally upstaged his playing partner Tiger Woods as he surged into a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the elite Tour Championship.

ATLANTA. In-form Swede Henrik Stenson, boosted by a red-hot front nine, totally upstaged his playing partner Tiger Woods as he surged into a one-shot lead in Thursday’s opening round of the elite Tour Championship.

In glorious sunshine with barely a breath of wind at East Lake Golf Club in the PGA Tour’s season finale, Stenson piled up five birdies in six holes with a superb exhibition of pinpoint approach play on the way to a six-under-par 64.

Though he dropped his only shot of the day at the par-four 16th, where he found a poor lie in the right rough off the tee and missed the green with his approach, he signed off in style with a four-foot birdie putt at the last.

“When it’s your day, you’re hitting good shots and getting them as close as I got them,” Stenson, ranked second in the FedExCup standings, said after mixing seven birdies with a lone bogey on the long, challenging East Lake layout.

It was not a day to remember, though, for FedExCup points leader Woods who failed to register a single birdie while making three bogeys on the way to a 73, ending the round in 29th place with only PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (74) below him.

It was the first time Woods had completed a round on the PGA Tour without a birdie since his opening round at the 2010 U.S. Open, and only the eighth time during his career on the U.S. circuit.

Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, who reeled off six birdies in seven holes from the 10th, was alone in second after firing a 65, finishing a stroke in front of Americans Billy Horschel and Steve Stricker.

Another American, Roberto Castro, opened with a 67 at East Lake where FedExCup playoff honours and the eye-popping $10 million bonus are also on the line, offering huge added incentive to the 30-man field.

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, South African Charl Schwartzel, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Australian Jason Day were among a group of eight players knotted on 68.

Woods, seeking a sixth PGA Tour victory this year, missed a six-foot birdie putt at the par-four first, then bogeyed the tricky par-four fifth after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker to reach the turn in one over.

Stenson put himself in prime position to land FedExCup honours as only he and the other members of the top five in the standings - Woods, Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar - would automatically secure the playoff trophy with victory on Sunday.

No birdie for Woods

Tiger Woods is the only player in the field without a birdie on Thursday. Last time he went a full round without one was the US Open in 2010.

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