Henrik Stenson broke another club Friday — this time by accident.
And it didn’t matter.
Playing with only 13 clubs in the bag after his 4-wood broke on the practice range, Stenson made three birdies on the opening four holes at East Lake to quickly seize control and shot 4-under 66 to build a 4-shot lead over Adam Scott in the Tour Championship.
For all his birdies, the best move he made all week was deciding to put the 4-wood in his locker instead of carrying it with him.
Stenson heard a funny sound after hitting 5 shots on the range, showed it to Steve Stricker and realized the face caved in. A television viewer who heard about the incident called the PGA Tour to see if the Swede had kept it in his bag, and officials checked with Stenson after his round.
If he had left it in the bag without using it, Stenson would have been assessed a 4-shot penalty — the margin of his lead. If he had used the club, he would have been disqualified. Stenson had no intention of using it, though sending it to his locker saved him.
He wasn’t sure it was a violation to carry a non-conforming club, nor did he know the penalties.
“You asked me how well I knew the rules the other day. I gave myself 7 out of 10, didn’t I?” he said. “I guess this was in the other 30 percent then. ... Good thing that we put it in the locker before we teed off.”
The way Stenson is playing, a bizarre incident like that might be the only thing that can stop him.
Stenson was at 10-under 130 going into the third round and might be playing a course far less firm. The forecast is for rain most of day, and the starting times have been moved up to this morning.
Tiger Woods is not in position to halt the hottest player in golf. Woods was headed toward the best round of the day, 5-under through 13 holes, when he made double bogey on the 14th, had a triple bogey on the 17th and wound up with a 71. He is 14 shots behind. It was the first time since the 2011 PGA Championship that Woods began a tournament with back-to-back rounds over par.
“I put everything I had into that start and didn’t have much at the end,” Woods said. “Just ran out of gas.”
Scott sputtered at the start. He was 1 shot behind Stenson and quickly fell 5 shots behind with a couple of poor tee shots. Scott played the last 14 holes without a bogey and wound up with a 69 that put him at 6-under 134.
The Masters champion chose to look at a different number — not 4 shots back, but only a guy ahead of him.
“Look, Henrik is playing fantastic, so he’s got this thing under control at the moment. But not for 36 holes,” Scott said. “I think there’s too many good players here. It’s not just myself or someone at 5 under. If it is softer tomorrow because of rain, there could be a lot better scores because it’s playing probably as tricky as it can at the moment.”
Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old rookie, had a 67 and was 5 shots behind. U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel were another shot back.
Francesco Molinari shot a 5-under 67 to share the lead after the second round of the Italian Open in Turin, Italy. Molinari tied Felipe Aguilar of Chile and Simon Thornton of Ireland at 9-under 135 at the Golf Club Torino.
A Turin native, Molinari has been the center of attention at the tournament. He won the event in 2006.
“This is a special, special week for me,” Molinari said. “I was emotional [Thursday] on the 10th tee at 8 a.m. with only 50 people watching, so now with all these people on my course, it’s a great feeling.”
Nicolas Colsaerts lost his overnight lead when he bogeyed the 16th and 18th. He’s 1 stroke back.