Published September 19, 2013
| Sports Network
Atlanta, GA – 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 a 67 to own sole possession of fifth.
Defending champion and 2012 FedExCup winner Brandt Snedeker had a 1-under 69 to sit in a tie for 14th place. Since the inception of the FedExCup, Snedeker is the first player to defend his title in both, as all previous winners failed to qualify for The Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods struggled to a 3-over 73, which placed him 29th out of 30 players. He was the only player in the field not to card a birdie.
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 three gains in a four-hole stretch from the 11th with a 16-foot birdie putt.
He added putts of eight and 10 feet at the 13th and 14th to move to 4-under and within a stroke of Stenson.
Horschel parred his final four holes to finish there and held the clubhouse lead for a while.
"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."
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.
The Masters champion countered bogeys at the third and eighth with a birdie at the sixth to make the turn at 1-over, then 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).