One round of the Tour Championship is in the books, and Henrik Stenson is your leader in Atlanta.
He was in the midst of a tough challenge from Adam Scott, who had a share of the lead when he went into the clubhouse. Then Stenson birdied No. 18 to put himself on top once again at East Lake.
It was a lot of fun watching the guys go head-to-head on the back nine, as Stenson had built himself a nice lead but wasn't able to distance himself from the competition. As the Swede stagnated, Scott surged up the leaderboard.
The fact that Stenson was able to hold the lead was good to see after the way he started the round. He birdied No. 2. You can see him teeing off on the second hole below (h/t PGA Tour's Instagram).
Following a par on No. 3, the Swede really turned it on at No. 4. He birdied the next four holes en route to a five-under 30 on the front nine, tying the lowest front-nine score Stenson has ever had (h/t PGA Tour).
You can see his birdie on No. 4, which was set up by a great approach, below.
He followed up with another strong approach on No. 5.
He made a bit of news when he took his frustrations out on a locker following the BMW Championship at Conway Farms last week. Golf Channel's Jason Sobel quipped that Stenson can add the front nine at East Lake to the list of destruction.
Here's a list of things that Henrik Stenson has destroyed in recent days: His driver; a locker at Conway Farms; the front nine at East Lake.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) September 19, 2013
Stenson fell back down to earth on the back nine. For a while it looked like his one-stroke lead was going to be enough—that was until Scott ascended to a different level as the first round drew to a close.
The Masters champion was the inverse of Stenson. After a mediocre front nine, he went on a tear on the back nine, picking up six birdies between Nos. 10 and 16.
This shot on 16 just emphasized how much Scott was in the zone.
Once Stenson bogeyed No. 16, there was a tie for the lead.
A bogey at No. 16 for Henrik Stenson drops him into a share of the lead with Adam Scott, who birdied 6 of 7 to get to -5. #FedExCup— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 19, 2013
It was quite the run from Scott—one of those times an athlete in the zone and everything he does is right. The 33-year-old Aussie was striking the ball superbly and setting himself up with some easy putts.
ESPN's Justin Ray tabulated just how well Scott was getting himself on the green.
Adam Scott: hit all 9 greens in regulation on back side today (played it in 6-under).— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) September 19, 2013
This could be a very interesting battle to watch between Scott and Stenson, as they've been two of the best players all year long.
In terms of guys to who could rise Friday, look no further than Dustin Johnson.
He had an up-and-down front nine. After birdieing the first two holes, the 29-year-old bogeyed Nos. 3, 5 and 6. He then closed out the first nine holes with birdies on the eighth and ninth holes. Luckily, he was able to steady himself a bit and avoid making too many mistakes picking up birdies on 14 and 15 after bogeying No. 10.
When he finished the round, Johnson was the clubhouse leader (h/t Mark Lamport-Stokes of Reuters).
Dustin Johnson sets clubhouse lead with a 2-under 68 in Tour Championship 1st round, mixing 6 birdies with 4 bogeys. Luke Donald cards a 70.— Mark Lamport-Stokes (@MarkLamport) September 19, 2013
One of the bigger surprises on the negative end of the spectrum was the performance of Jason Dufner. The PGA champion wasn't able to get into any sort of groove. A double bogey on No. 3 erased the birdie he had to start the round. It was all downhill from there too.
Dufner sits in last place with a four-under 74. Although the tournament is only one round old, it already seems he's dug himself too deep to be a threat to win the Tour Championship.
Here are some of the more absorbing storylines from Round 1.
Tiger Woods Struggles out of the Gate
Tiger Woods has been stuck on a roller coaster ever since the Memorial. A good result is followed with a bad result and vice versa. He looked great in his Bridgestone Invitational win but finished 40th at the PGA Championship.
His overall performance since that win in Akron has not been very Tiger-like, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Tiger Woods leads PGA TOUR w/ 5 wins this year. Since last win (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational), he has only 1 top-10 (T-2nd at The Barclays)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 19, 2013
After his 11th-place finish at the BMW Championship, you knew Woods was due for something bad, and that's exactly what happened Thursday at East Lake. He wasn't striking the ball well, and his putting was letting him down. Tiger currently sits at three over.
On No. 9, Woods hit his drive way right and almost hit the corporate tents. He managed to save par, but he was clearly upset about his performance.
It led to what was a not-so-family-friendly response as he was walking up to the 10th tee (h/t GC Tiger Tracker).
Making the long walk from 9 green to 10 tee, Tiger just called himself a $&@#ing &@%#. But don't worry. I'm the only one who heard it.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 19, 2013
Who's Going to Make a Push
With few notable names on the leaderboard, it's going to be fun seeing which guy can make the biggest jump in Round 2. You've got so many talented guys sitting near the bottom after poor first rounds, and it's only going to take one big day for them to get right back near the top.
Woods is obviously in that situation, but he has little shot of making up such a large difference in so short an amount of time.
The reigning champ Brandt Snedeker, on the other hand, is well positioned to make a run Friday and beyond after his success on the back nine. At one under, he's not too far back from Stenson.
And don't sleep on Matt Kuchar, who's also at one under.
If you want to look toward the more established guys, Jim Furyk shot an even-par 70, while Phil Mickelson finished with a one-over 71.