Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Golf

Stenson extends lead at PGA's Tour Championship

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ATLANTA — Henrik Stenson broke another club Friday, this time by accident.

And it didn't matter.

Playing with 13 clubs in the bag after his 4-wood broke on the practice range, Stenson made three birdies on the opening four holes at East Lake to quickly seize control and shot 4-under 66 to build a four-shot lead over Adam Scott (69) in the Tour Championship at 10-under 130.

For all his birdies, the best move Stenson made was deciding to put the 4-wood in his locker instead of carrying it with him.

Stenson, the first-round leader, heard a funny sound after hitting five shots on the range, showed the club to Steve Stricker and realized the face had caved in. A television viewer who heard about what had happened called the PGA Tour to see if Stenson had kept it in his bag, and officials checked with Stenson after his round.

If he had left it in the bag without using it, Stenson would have been assessed a four-shot penalty, the margin of his lead. If he had used the club, he would have been disqualified.

He wasn't sure it was a violation to carry a nonconforming club, nor did he know the penalties. "You asked me how well I knew the rules the other day. I gave myself 7 out of 10, didn't I?" he said. "I guess this was in the other 30 percent then. … Good thing that we put it in the locker before we teed off."

Tiger Woods is not in position to halt the hottest player in golf. Woods was headed toward the best round of the day, 5 under through 13 holes, when he made double bogey on 14, had triple bogey on 17 and wound up with 71. He was 14 shots behind at 4-over 144 with Jason Dufner (70) and Brandt Snedeker (75).

It was the first time since the 2011 PGA Championship that Woods began a tournament with back-to-back rounds over par.

"I put everything I had into that start and didn't have much at the end," Woods said. "Just ran out of gas."

Jordan Spieth, a 20-year-old rookie, had 67 and was five shots behind at 5 under. U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (68), Dustin Johnson (68) and former Gator Billy Horschel (70) were another shot back.

Stenson made news Monday when he smashed his driver on the final hole of the BMW Championship and tore up his locker. "They're not going to believe me anyway after last week that the 4-wood broke during natural causes," he said.

His hope was to find a new head in a nearby pro shop, though it was unlikely he could test it in time with an early start scheduled for today. The forecast was for rain most of day, and the starting times were moved up to this morning with hopes of getting the round in.

Stenson (No. 2) and Scott (No. 3) are among the top five seeds in the FedEx Cup playoffs who could take home the playoffs' $10 million bonus by winning the playoff-finale Tour Champion­ship. Woods could still win the FedEx Cup if Stenson and Scott falter.

"Look, Henrik is playing fantastic, so he's got this thing under control at the moment," Scott said. "But … I think there's too many good players here."

Champions: Mark Wiebe shot 8-under 64 to take the first-round lead by two at the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship in Kapolei. Mark Calcavecchia and John Cook were tied for second. Brian Henninger was another shot back. Vijay Singh, making his debut on the 50-and-over tour debut after turning 50 in February, was 3 under.

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