Stenson leaves young contenders in his wake

Henrik Stenson lining up a putt on the 17th green during the first round of the Tour Championship. The Swede has yet to win any tournaments this season.
Henrik Stenson lining up a putt on the 17th green during the first round of the Tour Championship. The Swede has yet to win any tournaments this season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ATLANTA • Henrik Stenson stole the spotlight from the young guns on Thursday, firing a seven-under 63 to set the pace after the first round of the season-ending Tour Championship.

With top-ranked Jason Day, 27, winning four of his last six events, 22-year-old Jordan Spieth holding the Masters and US Open crowns, and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy still just 26, the new wave is all the rage.

"It feels good to be part of that wave," deadpanned the 39-year-old Stenson, drawing laughs from the press corps.

"I guess we're not older than what we feel, right? So I don't feel a day over 38. So it's all good."

The Swede posted six birdies along with an eagle-three on the ninth hole at East Lake Golf Club, where the four-event FedExCup series culminates.

He has a two-shot lead over Englishman Paul Casey (65). McIlroy shared third with British Open champion Zach Johnson at 66.

Spieth registered a 68. Day started with three birdies in a row but a triple-bogey at the fifth sent him on his way to 69.

Stenson has not won any tournaments this year and has never won a Major.

But he has certainly done some big winning in his career.

Two years ago, he won the Tour Championship to clinch the FedExCup play-offs title and claim its US$10 million (S$14.2 million) bonus prize. He followed that with victory at the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship that also won him the 2013 Race to Dubai jackpot. He now has another US$11.48 million bonanza in his sights.

"It's definitely a ball-striking golf course," said Stenson, who pounded his tee shots, ripped approaches with laser-like accuracy and putted the lightning-fast greens with a deft touch.

"And when I'm hitting it nicely, it's always going to work for me. It's always going to suit me."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Stenson leaves young contenders in his wake'. Print Edition | Subscribe