Atlanta (Reuters): Henrik Stenson, who has not won a title this year, put himself in pole position for a $ 11.48 million jackpot by firing a seven-under 63 on Thursday for a two-shot lead after the first round of the Tour Championship.
Stenson, who claimed the FedExCup playoffs bonanza two years ago by winning this season-ending event, posted six birdies along with an eagle-three on the ninth hole at East Lake Golf Club, where the four-event series culminates. The 39-year-old Swede topped a leaderboard that featured other international players including Englishman Paul Casey, who was sole second after a 65, and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who shared third with British Open champion Zach Johnson at 66.
World number one Jason Day of Australia, winner of four of his last six events including the PGA Championship and last week’s BMW Championship, started with three birdies in a row, but a triple-bogey at the fifth sent him on his way to 69.
“It was in the unknown,” Day said about his tee shot at the fifth that disappeared out of bounds to the right. “I got off to a good start today, but ... it’s one of those swings, it kind of just got away from me a little bit.”
Jordan Spieth, who dominated the first half of the year with wins at the Masters and US Open, registered a 68 to join five other players at two under par.
Stenson, who has three second-place finishes on the PGA Tour this year and another on the European Tour, pounded his tee shots, ripped approaches with laser-like accuracy and putted the lightning-fast greens with a deft touch.