ATLANTA - You don't get much better days to play golf than Thursday's sunny skies at a warm East Lake, and almost everyone took advantage of the favorable conditions to start the Tour Championship off with a sprint.
Henrik Stenson, still shaking off the effects of a sore wrist, claimed the first-round lead with a sterling 64. Stenson, who came into the Tour Championship ranked second in FedEx Cup standings, played the kind of golf that banks serious checks, like the $10 million awaiting the winner of the FedEx Cup.
The wrist, injured last week, didn't seem to give Stenson any problems on the course, even though he conceded that it caused him difficulty in brushing his teeth. "It was really bad yesterday," he said after the round, "but a lot of icing and treatment and some anti‑inflammatories, and I've brought it down and seemed to have made a world of difference. I was surprised that it didn't bother me today given the state it was in yesterday. Like I said, touch wood, it continues and doesn't bother me for the rest of the championship."
One stroke behind Stenson sits Adam Scott, however, who just happens to be ranked third in the FedEx Cup standings. Following Scott are Billy Horschel and ageless wonder Steve Stricker.
"If I tell you I'm feeling tired this year, you can slap me across the face," said Scott, who salvaged a good round despite an awkward front nine. "I've only played 14 tournaments or something. I planned that with a reason. There's a lot to play for in these four weeks in the playoffs. You can't just wrap it up after the Majors are over, and I wanted to be fresh and ready, and I've tried to do the best I can to not stand here and say after an average weekend I'm burned out. There is no excuse."
On the other end of the spectrum from the leaders, the far other end, sat Tiger Woods with a 73. He failed to card even a single birdie, only the seventh time in his 1,083rd round as a professional that he's failed to get into red numbers. Woods declined all interview requests after the round, and now faces a steep climb to get back into the hunt for the FedEx Cup.
"We know he didn't have the best of days," said Stenson, Woods' playing partner Thursday, "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."
Other notables include Sergio Garcia (T6, -2), Matt Kuchar (T14, -1), Hunter Mahan (T18, E), Phil Mickelson (25, +1), and in dead last, Jason Dufner (30, +4). The festivities continue through the weekend at East Lake.