Stenson and Woods highlight ups and downs of Tour life

Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:28pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Professional golf's fickle nature and the difficulty for players to find consistency in form could hardly have been better contrasted by Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson in the opening round of the Tour Championship.

Woods came into the PGA Tour's season-ending event hunting a third FedExCup playoff title and a sixth victory this year but tumbled out of contention with a three-over-par 73 at East Lake, failing to make a single birdie in a woeful putting display.

His playing partner Stenson, just three days after smashing the head of his driver in disgust during the final round of the weather-delayed BMW Championship in Chicago, charged to the top of the leaderboard with a superb 64 on Thursday.

Two very different performances on a long and challenging East Lake layout where any error can be costly, and world number one Woods was so frustrated by his round that he declined to speak to reporters after he had signed his card.

"Obviously, frustrating (for him) on the greens," Swede Stenson said of the 34 putts totaled by Woods, who failed to register a single birdie in a PGA Tour round for only the eighth time in his career. "He didn't make a birdie out there.

"That's very unusual. I wouldn't say he was playing bad, but he missed a couple of times in the wrong spot and made bogeys on three occasions. If you're not making any birdies, then it's going to be a bad day, simple as that.

"On a good day, you might make one or two up-and-downs and then roll a couple in. We know how small the margins are. He could have been two under or one under with the same play if he had just taken his opportunities."

Woods has recorded eight top-10s in just 15 starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, including five victories and a tie for second at The Barclays, but has not been at his best in his last two appearances, especially in the final round.   Continued...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. drives off the fourth tee during round two of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia September 20, 2013. REUTERS/Tami Chappell