The apparent pain caused by tendinitis in his wrist didn’t show up on Thursday and therefore didn’t cause Henrik Stenson to skip a beat in the first round of the TOUR Championship. The Swede jumped out quickly with five birdies in his first seven holes at East Lake. He takes a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott into the second day of play. Since the pairings are reset after every round, the top two golfers will be playing together on Friday, when they get their round underway at 2:00 pm.
His emotions might be only thing standing behind the hottest golfer in the world over the last three months and the $10 million FedEx Cup grand prize. After an outburst in the locker room on Monday at the BMW Championship, Stenson seems to have centered himself prior to making the trek to East Lake. “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.”
While Stenson got out of the gates quickly, it was just the opposite for his Friday playing partner, Scott. The Aussie played the front nine one over par but then heated up after he made the turn, rolling in six birdies in his first seven holes on the back. “It was a tale of two nines, there’s no doubt,” Scott said. “I missed three greens with wedges on the front nine and wasted all my chances to score. I hit two good shots into 10 and rolled a putt in, which calmed me down. And then I just went and played, and played the way I felt I could.”
Scott has a great deal riding on this event, as well. Should either he or Stenson win, they are guaranteed the $10 million check. If Scott pulls out the victory, however, it will strengthen his candidacy for the PGA Tour player of the year award.