The top two players in the FedExCup standings are going in dramatically different directions on Thursday at the TOUR Championship. Henrik Stenson, the current No. 2, was the one facing doubts coming into the week -- nursing a sore wrist that prevented any practice after he was last seen destroying his driver, and later his locker, in Chicago on Monday. But it's Stenson, and not No. 1 Tiger Woods, who has surged to the top of the leaderboard at East Lake.
The Swede has probably been the most consistent golfer in the world this summer, and he narrowly missed out on wins at The Players, The Open and the PGA Championship before finally getting a victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship. That victory in Boston propelled him past Tiger into No. 1 in playoff points, but that form was gone at the BMW as the Swede lost his temper and the top spot. So it was a bit of a surprise to see him come out firing, throwing darts into the greens on the front side at East Lake and rolling in five birdies in his first seven holes. He does not have a bogey and has settled at 5-under though his first 13 holes, good enough for a one-shot lead.
His playing partner, however, has been hitting it all over the yard. Tiger is 2-over through his first 13 holes, and it's been a total grind just to keep it at the number. Woods has been wayward, mostly to the right side, off the tee and also hasn't been sharp up around the green (including an awful three-put par at the par-5 ninth). East Lake isn't yielding many super low numbers like the first three courses of the FedExCup, but there are still only seven players over-par. Tiger is the only player in the field who has not made a birdie yet. At No. 1 in the FEC standings, he owns the most routes to the overall playoffs victory and the $10 million prize. But if he continues this form from Thursday, he will almost certainly get passed and miss out on his third cup.
UPDATE: Tiger finishes without a birdie for just 7th time in 1000-plus round, is in second-to-last place.
Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard with the first round winding down:
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