Wednesday 20 September 2017

Tiger Woods makes slow start as Stenson opens up with four birdies in Turkey

Tiger Woods plays a shot on the 12th hole during the delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south west city of Antalya today
Tiger Woods plays a shot on the 12th hole during the delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south west city of Antalya today
Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot on the 18th hole during the delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south west city of Antalya today
Justin Rose of the Britain hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole during the delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south west city of Antalya today
Tiger Woods waits to tee off on the 14th hole during the delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in the south west city of Antalya today

Dave Clark

RACE to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson was among the front runners as Tiger Woods struggled to keep up with the pace at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Some 63 of the 78-man field had to return to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal this morning to complete their first rounds after heavy rain and thunderstorms in Antalya caused a three-hour delay yesterday.

In contrasting bright sunshine, world number one Woods resumed six shots off the overnight lead on one under par, and was unable to get any closer over the last eight holes of his opening round.

The American started well with a chip to within five feet when he resumed at the 11th, and a birdie there was followed by another at the long 13th.

But that was as good as it got for the 14-time major winner, and he bogeyed the par-five last after taking three shots from just off the left edge of the green.

A two-under-par 70 left him trailing in the wake of playing partner Stenson, who led alongside South African Darren Fichardt and veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn after an eight-under-par 64.

The Swede, who can wrap up the Race to Dubai title this week if he wins and Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are outside the top two, recorded four birdies in the eight holes he played this morning.

The final group of Woods, Stenson and Rose had just 45 minutes to prepare for their second round, with players going out in the same groupings in order to make up for lost time.

Like Woods, Rose was struggling to make an impact on two under, but Poulter's six-under-par 66 was keeping Stenson on his toes.

Stenson has offered the Englishman odds of 10-1 on a $100 wager that the Ryder Cup star will not be able to catch him in the battle to become European number one.

"I made a couple of nice birdies coming in and I'm very happy with the score," said Stenson, who has already won the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup after a season where he has posted 10 top-10 finishes worldwide, winning twice.

"I knew Poulter was playing all right because he had a white towel around his arm to show me how I'm going to be looking when I'm pouring his drinks, so I'm just trying to stay ahead of him."

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