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Leader Henrick Stenson has reason to be cheerful at Atlanta

Updated: Friday, 20 Sep 2013 07:35 | Comments

Henrik Stenson is on top at the Tour Championship in Atlanta
Henrik Stenson is on top at the Tour Championship in Atlanta

Three days after smashing his driver and a locker in frustration, Sweden's Henrik Stenson had reasons to be far more cheerful after claiming the lead in the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Stenson carded a six-under-par 64 at East Lake to lead the 30-man field aiming to win the first prize of $1.4million and the $10million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.

The 37-year-old outscored playing partner Tiger Woods by nine shots, the FedEx Cup points leader struggling to a three-over 73, his first birdie-free round since the 2010 US Open leaving him in 29th place.

Stenson holed from seven feet at the second, eight inches on the fourth and four feet on the fifth, before a brilliant tee shot on the par-three sixth left him with another tap-in birdie.

The world number six then holed from eight feet on the seventh to make it four birdies in succession and reached six under with another birdie on the par-five 15th.

His only bogey of the day came on the 16th, but another superb iron shot on the par-three 18th set up a closing birdie to ensure he finished one shot ahead of Masters champion Adam Scott, who had fired six birdies in seven holes from the 10th.

Stenson's performance was in stark contrast to the end of his rain-delayed final round in the BMW Championship on Monday, when he took out his frustrations at a closing 74 on his driver, smacking it so hard on the ground on the 18th that its head flew off.

He then damaged his locker at Conway Farms, with his agent RJ Nemer confirming to Golf.com that Stenson was responsible and saying the incident was the result of a "frustration that manifested itself," adding that Stenson had paid for the damage and "apologised to the appropriate parties."

Stenson is one of five players who control their own destiny in Atlanta, with Woods, Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar also knowing they will claim the massive bonus should they win the Tour Championship.

Johnson and Kuchar both shot rounds of 69 to lie one under, one shot behind an eight-strong group containing Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose.

"I didn't feel that great out there but to be able to shoot a couple under on this difficult course, I am happy with that," Garcia said. "I've been playing a lot this summer and am kind of feeling it and struggling to get the right amount of energy out there."

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