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Tiger Woods helps Sean O'Hair take the lead

O'Hair shoots 66 at Tour Championship, with Woods one shot back.

September 25, 2009|Associated Press

ATLANTA — Sean O'Hair got a putting tip from Tiger Woods and put it to good use Thursday in the Tour Championship, opening with a four-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead in the final FedEx Cup playoff event.

Woods did all right himself. He recovered from a shaky start with three birdies during a four-hole stretch on the back nine at East Lake for a 67, leaving him one shot back along with Padraig Harrington and British Open champion Stewart Cink.

O'Hair played six times last week at home with his buddies. Far more valuable was the nine holes of practice he spent Wednesday with Woods, when the world's No. 1 player gave him some advice on adding loft to his backswing and releasing the blade through the ball.

"Getting advice like that from good players is obviously awesome, but getting it from basically the greatest of all time is pretty cool," O'Hair said. "I mean, I'm his competition, and for him to help me out like he did was very classy, I thought."

Woods' response?

"I'm going to go chew him out right now," he said, laughing.

The tip seemed to work out on firm greens that were far tougher than the 30-man field could have imagined after so much rain.

O'Hair rolled in an 18-foot putt on the 14th hole for the last of his six birdies, and he made one from 55 feet earlier in the round. It was part of what he called a solid day, and it allowed the FedEx Cup possibilities to come to life.

O'Hair is in the No. 7 spot and he knows exactly what has to happen for him to cash in on the $10-million first prize -- win the Tour Championship, and have Woods finish in a three-way tie for second. Oddly enough, that's how the leaderboard shaped up after one day.

Woods doesn't regret the advice, which is typical among golfers.

"It's very simple," said Woods, who was six shots behind at one point Thursday. "You always help your friends. Sean is a friend of mine, and like all my friends, you always try to make their life better somehow. Sean has been struggling a bit on the greens this year, and I thought I could offer a little bit of help and insight to how he could change that."

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