Tiger: No birdies in round of 73

Updated: September 19, 2013, 7:19 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Tiger Woods was near the bottom of the Tour Championship leaderboard after failing to birdie at East Lake on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeTiger Woods
AP Photo/John BazemoreTiger Woods shows his frustration after a bad shot on the third fairway during the first round of the Tour Championship.

It was just the seventh time in Woods' pro career on the PGA Tour that he was unable to birdie at least one hole during a round, the previous time being the first round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Two of the previous six were also at East Lake, in 1998.

The top-ranked Woods turned pro in 1996, and Thursday was his 1,083rd round on the PGA Tour. His 3-over 73 left him nine strokes behind leader Henrik Stenson, who played in the last group with Woods and shot a 64.

Woods declined to comment afterward.

"Obviously frustrating on the greens [for Woods],'' Stenson said. "He didn't make a birdie out there. That's very unusual. I wouldn't say he was playing bad. It's one of those days. Missed a couple of times in the wrong spot and made three bogeys. ... I mean, if you're not making any birdies, then it's going to be a bad day, simple as that. We all know how small the margins are. He could have been 2 under or 1 under with the same play if you just take your opportunities.''

Woods had one at the first hole, knocking his approach to 6 feet. He missed, and from there, it was a struggle. He hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation but took 34 putts, including a 3-putt at the par-5 ninth, which he hit in two.

At the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, he missed birdie putts inside 12 feet.

Only PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (74) was worse on the opening day of the final FedEx Cup playoff event. They will play in the first grouping Friday morning.

The 73 was Woods' highest opening round at East Lake and will make the task of winning a third FedEx Cup title extremely difficult.

Stenson is second in points, and Adam Scott, who shot a 65 on Thursday, is third. If either player wins the Tour Championship, he will capture the overall FedEx Cup title and receive a $10 million bonus. The tournament itself has an $8 million purse, with $1.44 million going to the winner.

Woods practiced only his chipping and putting Wednesday and did not hit full shots or play any practice holes, trying to be careful with a lower back that gave him problems a few weeks ago at the Barclays and again Monday at the BMW Championship.

After signing his scorecard Thursday, Woods made a brief stop in the locker room, then headed to the parking lot.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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