I was feeling a little bad for Henrik Stenson as he came into East Lake for The Tour Championship by Coca Cola. As he teed it up in the final group with Tiger Woods, the reports around the internet were that he had some tendonitis problems in his left wrist, and was predicted to struggle at East Lake. After watching his opening round 64 on Thursday, I was thinking about calling my golf professional to find out where I could get some tendonitis.
I thought it was a shame that after playing well all summer and finally breaking through at The Deutsche Bank three weeks ago to grab his first win, Stenson would end up with medical problems at the tour finale. Then I read this morning that after breaking his driver at the 18th hole in Chicago, he took out further frustrations with Conway Farms on his locker. Did he hurt his wrist there, and the tendonitis was a smoke screen? [ ref Stenson Leaves Damaged Locker at BMW ].
Whatever the case, Henrik Stenson put on a clinic at East Lake on Thursday afternoon. The numbers usually don’t lie, and Stenson’s were great for the opening round of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest tournament.
Driving Accuracy 64.29%, Greens in Regulation 88.33%, Strokes Gained Putting 1.069, and Putts Per GIR 1.533. Those numbers will win a lot of golf tournaments on the PGA Tour.
Playing along side a struggling Tiger Woods, Stenson got it going early with a birdie at the second hole, then going on a four birdie run at the fourth hole and making the turn at 30. He had one hiccup at the 16th hole only to show everyone he was human.
As a fan, watching Henrik Stenson’s performance, the old commercial from ESPN that featured former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Luis Pujols as a machine, came to mind. Stenson was a machine on Thursday. Drive down the middle, laser iron to the flag, and a putt. He made the game look easy, and I assure you, it isn’t.
With 30 of the worlds best golfers playing at East Lake on Thursday, only 17 had scores under par, and seven were at even par. The Worlds number one golfer struggled to a three over par. In 29th position, only beating Jason Dufner at this point, Tiger was so frustrated that he left the course without speaking to reporters.
Henrik Stenson has a one shot lead over Masters Champ, Adam Scott who turned in a nice round of golf as well. The big surprises on the day were Billy Horschel, and Roberto Castro. Horschel is tied with Steve Stricker at four under par, and Castro is three back at three under par.
Roberto Castro has played well in the last couple of months since he finished second at the AT&T National, but he got on the leaderboard at the Deutsche Bank only to finish in a tie for ninth place. Billy Horschel has struggled since he picked up his first win on the tour at the Zurich back in April.
The Friday broadcast starts at 1PM Eastern on The Golf Channel. It’s time to tune in for some great golf!