ATLANTA (AP) — Just getting to East Lake is the challenge for Henrik Stenson. Playing the golf course appears to be the easy part.
Two years after his wire-to-wire victory to capture the FedEx Cup, Stenson was just as dominant Thursday until he stalled at the end and had to settle for a 7-under 63 and a two-shot lead over Paul Casey in the Tour Championship.
Stenson ripped a 4-wood from 288 yards to 25 feet and made the eagle putt on the par-5 ninth to go out in 29. He added two more birdies to reach 8 under through 12 holes, but had his lone bogey on the 17th.
Even so, it was just the start he wanted on a course that he has figured out. Stenson opened with a 64 two years ago, stretched his lead to as many as nine shots in the third round and joined Tom Watson as the only wire-to-wire winners of the Tour Championship.
He missed last year when he failed to get into the top 30 who qualify for the FedEx Cup finale, and knew he only needed to get back to have a chance. The Swede is No. 4 in the FedEx Cup and has been a big topic of conversation this week. He could finish as low as third and still win the $10 million bonus without having won a tournament all year.
Jason Day, in his first tournament as the No. 1 player in the world, stayed with Stenson until one shot. Day birdied his opening three holes, but his drive on the par-4 fifth hole sailed through the trees on the right, over the fence and out-of-bounds. He made triple bogey and never really got back on track. He shot a 69 and was six behind.
Rory McIlroy started slowly, finished the front nine with three straight birdies and had a 66 to join British Open champion Zach Johnson. Jordan Spieth took the stress out of his game and rarely was out of position. He just didn't hit it close enough for birdie chances, made three of them and shot a 68.
NATIONWIDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL CHAMPIONSHIP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Martin Flores birdied his final hole for a 4-under 67 and a share of the first-round lead with Alex Aragon in the Web.com Tour Finals' Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.
Flores and Aragon each had five birdies and a bogey on Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
The tournament is the third of four events in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings and non-members who earned enough money to have placed in the top 200 had they been eligible to receive points. The top 25 players on Web.com regular-season money list earned PGA Tour cards. They are competing against each other for PGA Tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for another 25 cards based on series earnings.
Aragon finished 68th on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list and has earned $4,421 in the first two series events. Flores was 156th in the FedEx Cup and has made $2,900 in the series.
Steve Marino, Aaron Watkins, Blake Adams, Brad Elder and Derek Ernst were tied for third at 68.
BAD GRIESBACH, Germany (AP) — Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and France's Benjamin Hebert shared the lead at 7-under after the first round of the European Open
Wiesberger had seven birdies in a bogey-free round on Bad Griesbach's Franz Beckenbauer Course. Hebert had eight birdies and a bogey.
Champions Tour player Bernhard Langer opened with a 66. The German star co-designed the course.