- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

ATLANTA | Sean O’Hair got a putting tip from Tiger Woods and put it to good use Thursday at the Tour Championship, opening with a 4-under 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 were the nine holes of practice he spent with Woods on Wednesday, 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’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 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 seventh and knows exactly what has to happen for him to cash in on the $10 million prize: win this event and have Woods finish in a three-way tie for second. Oddly enough, that’s how the leader board shaped up after one day.

Woods said he doesn’t regret the advice, which is typical among golfers.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “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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