Stenson grabs early Tour Championship lead

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Updated: September 19, 2013

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Henrik Stenson birdied his final hole on
Thursday to close out a 6-under 64 and grab the lead after the first round of
The Tour Championship.

The Deutsche Bank Championship winner can claim the FedExCup if he can hang on
to his lead for the remainder of the tournament.

Adam Scott sits alone in second place following his 5-under 65 at East Lake
Golf Club, while Steve Stricker and Billy Horschel share third at 4-under 66.

Roberto Castro shot 67 to own sole possession of fifth.

Brandt Snedeker, who is the first defending champion to qualify for The Tour
Championship since its inception, carded a 1-under 69 to sit in a tie for 14th
place.

Tiger Woods struggled to a 3-over 73 in his first round, which placed him in
29th. PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner was the only player to post a round
worse than Woods with a 74.

Stenson, who was playing in the final group with Woods, raced out of the gate
with five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the second to grab the lead. The
Swede’s run consisted of just two putts from outside five feet as he routinely
stuck his iron shots close to the pin.

He would par his next two holes to cap his outward 30, which tied his career
low nine-hole score.

“That stretch between one and seven I guess is as good as I’ve ever hit it in
a round of golf,” admitted Stenson.

Horschel, meanwhile, went out with the fifth group of the day and followed a
5-foot birdie putt at the first with five straight pars.

After trading a bogey at the seventh with a birdie at the eighth, he
kickstarted a streak of four gains in a five-hole stretch from the 11th with a
16-foot birdie putt.

He added putts of eight and 10 feet at the 13th and 14th before kicking in a
4-foot putt at the 15th to move to 4-under and within a stroke of Stenson.

Horschel parred his final four holes to finish there and grab the clubhouse
lead.

“It all comes down to putting the ball in the fairway. I think if you’re in
the rough it’s hard to judge whether it’s going to come out flying or it’s
going to come out dead and you can’t control the spin,” said Horschel. “I did
a good job putting the ball in the fairway, which gave me an opportunity to
attack the flag.”

But Stenson later moved two clear of Horschel at the 15th, bouncing back from
an errant drive into a bunker with another birdie putt from inside five feet
to move to 6-under.

Stenson, however, followed with a 2-putt bogey at the 16th to fall back to 5-
under and into a tie for the lead with Scott.

Playing in the penultimate group ahead of Stenson, Scott stormed up the
leaderboard with a sizzling back nine.

After the Masters champion countered a birdie at the sixth with bogeys at the
third and eighth to make the turn at 1-over, Scott poured in six birdies over
a seven-hole stretch from the 10th to grab a share of the lead.

Four of those six birdie putts came from at least nine feet.

Scott had a chance for the outright lead with a 15-foot birdie putt at the
last, but his curling effort just rolled past the left side of the cup.

“This is always a tricky course,” stated Scott. “If you’re playing well,
there’s a good chance to score and if you’re playing bad it’s really tough to
score out there.”

Stenson followed by sticking his tee shot at the par-3 closing hole just
inside four feet of the pin and converting that short birdie effort to reclaim
the outright lead.

Stricker recorded five birdies around a lone bogey during his opening round to
meet Horschel at 4-under.

NOTES: The top five players (Woods, Stenson, Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt
Kuchar) on the points list can win the FedExCup if they win this tournament.
Other players outside of the top five need to win and have other scenarios
take place in order to capture the Cup and the $10 million prize … Woods
recorded his first round without a birdie since the opening round of the 2010
U.S. Open … Horschel is trying to become just the fourth player to win the
Tour Championship in his first appearance. He would join Chad Campbell (2003),
Bart Bryant (2005) and Bill Haas (2011).