Instead of smashing a driver and a locker, he demolished the front nine at East Lake on Thursday with a five birdies over a six-hole stretch that carried him to 6-under-par 64 and a one-shot lead over Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott.
It was a big turnaround from Monday at Conway Farms, not only on his scorecard but between the ears.
“I just needed to realize the world is a good place again,” Stenson said.
Stenson was playing his seventh tournament in 10 weeks when the BMW Championship was extended a day by rain. He slammed his driver so hard into the ground on the final hole that the head snapped off, and then he took out his frustrations on his wooden locker at Conway Farms.
Playing all 18 holes at East Lake for the first time, it looked like he couldn’t miss. On the opening seven holes, he had only one iron shot outside 10 feet, and he converted five of them for birdie.
“I really knew I had to be in a good frame of mind coming out there if I wanted to play good golf this week,” he said. “As some of you noticed, I wasn’t that on Monday when I finished up in Chicago. So it was a good turnaround mentally. I stayed very level-headed – kept the head on, both myself and drivers, and played a great round of golf.”
Tiger Woods was the only player in the 30-man field to go without a birdie and shot 73.
It was only the seventh time in his PGA Tour career – and third time at East Lake – that he went an entire round without a birdie.
Scott did his damage on the back nine, making six birdies in seven holes for 29 that had him tied for the lead until Stenson finished off his remarkable round with a 5-iron from 223 yards to 4 feet for birdie on the par-3 closing hold.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Turin, Italy, Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium took a share of the lead in the first round of the Italian Open.
The Ryder Cup standout shot 7-under-par 65 at the Golf Club Torino to join Ricardo Gonzalez and Maximilian Kieffer at the top.
Former Augusta State golfer Scott Jamieson opened with 72.
Colsaerts withdrew from last week’s KLM Open with the flu and appears to have benefited from some time at home.
SOLHEIM CUP: The LPGA Tour is expected to announce on Monday that the Solheim Cup will be played at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in 2017, according to the Golf Channel.
The LPGA has scheduled a news conference at the club on Monday.
While officials are not commenting yet, the club has been in serious talks with the women’s tour for several months about being the next U.S. location for the biennial competition between the United States and Europe.