Stenson’s Shiny New Trophies
Earlier this year during a CBS broadcast of a tour event Gary McCord informed us that Henrik Stenson took a week off to play in his club championship. He finished 2nd in that club championship. Now he’s the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup Champion. Over the last 90 days no golfer on the planet has been hotter than Henrik Stenson. Something seemed to click for him when he went across the pond to prepare for the British Open in July. Second place finishes at the Scottish Open, British Open, and Firestone were indications that the big Swede had found his form and was back from professional golf purgatory where he had lingered for a few years. A win in Boston in the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs validated his solid play and also vaulted him back into the top ten in the Official World Golf Rankings.
After a week off following his win Stenson arrived in Chicago looking to add another impressive showing to his 2013 resume in the BMW Championship. At times he contended, and a late eagle on Sunday pushed him back up the leaderboard, but he was always just out of reach of the leaders. As I wrote in my wrap of the BMW last week, Stenson went for broke on 18 on Sunday and made a mess of his final hole. His frustration in his game lead to him snapping his driver on the ground and breaking it into two pieces. But Henrik didn’t stop there, he took his rage straight to the locker room and went ape shit.
That’s an image of the damage Stenson did to his locker after his tirade. He apologized to the club and paid them a significant amount, plus a fine to the tour, to repair the damage. He also had a new driver made to his liking once he got to Atlanta on Monday. Knowing how mind fucked he was on Sunday, knowing he was putting a new driver in the bag for the week, I found it very unlikely that he’d play well at East Lake and contend, let alone win the whole deal and dominate in the fashion that he did.
What the fuck to I know? Stenson put the episode from Conway Farms behind him like an emotionless robot. Isn’t that how they’re bred in Sweden? He went back to his greens and fairways game plan which resulted in him having a 9 shot advantage on the field after 45 holes. Only a rain soaked Saturday back nine made things somewhat interesting and dramatic when Stenson came home in 38 shots to come back to the field.
On Sunday, for a few brief moments, rookie sensation Jordan Spieth got hot enough to make Henrik sweat. Stenson responded with more solid golf and instead of collapsing when his lead shrunk to two shots, he extended it to three and slammed the door on Spieth just like he did when he won in Boston. Cha-ching. An up and down on 18 from the bunker meant 11.4 million dollars to pad his bank account. That’s not a bad day of work.
The theme for 2013 on the PGA Tour seems to be one of redemption. Adam Scott’s win at Augusta, Phil coming back from another U.S. Open failure to win the British, and Dufner capturing the PGA only two years removed from losing it in a playoff…… Stenson’s win at the Tour Championship falls right in line with that theme. Congrats to him for his play over the last few months, his Fed Ex victories, and his rise in the rankings which have him all the way back to number 4 in the world.
Winners & Losers Of The Week
Henrik Stenson – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You win, you’re the biggest winner here for the week. So Stenson is our guy, and he has 11.4 million reasons that justify that selection. He dominated the other 29 players at East Lake and out-classed the field in 2 of the 4 Fed Ex Cup Playoff events.
What’s next for Henrik? Well, that’s an interesting question. Stenson’s game fits Augusta National quite well. Some might say that his putter will keep him from winning a green jacket, but that’s bull shit. If Bubba Watson can win there, Stenson can too. He’s a better ball striker and has more game, he just can’t move a sand wedge 45 yards from left to right like Bubba can on demand from the pine straw.
If Stenson can start 2014 with any semblance of the game he’s had recently, he’ll contend at Augusta in April and he should be on your short list of possible champs.
Jordan Spieth – Rookie of the Year. That’s an easy one. Jordy locked that up a month ago and it’s not even close. In fact, they shouldn’t even vote on it because Spieth should win it in such a landslide. Homie wasn’t even a tour member 6 months ago. Now he’s a PGA Tour winner and team USA Presidents Cup member. He also leads the tour in Sunday scoring average. Say what?
That isn’t a typo. Spieth had 10 final round scores in the 60s on the tour this year. That’s 8 more than Tiger Woods had. If Spieth could get off to better starts he might have had more than 1 win this year. Am I nit-picking this kid? No, not at all. He’s been phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the Presidents Cup and next year’s Masters.
On Sunday at East Lake Jordan again put on a show. This time he was going low shooting 64 with 10 million dollars on the line. He’s an impressive competitor with a big set of balls. Keep it up kid.
Steve Stricker – For a semi-retired-part-time tour player, Steve Stricker had a pretty decent 2013. He played in 13 events, was top 25 in 11 of them, top 10 in 8, and 2nd in 4. The only thing missing for Strick is a win. While he’s had a great career, Steve doesn’t have a true career defining win. John Deere Classic’s don’t count in that regard. If he could have chased down Stenson and won the Fed Ex Playoff that might have been the win that is missing from his career resume. Still, he was tied for 2nd with Spieth this week and that puts you on the short list of winners.
Jason Day – He finished tied for 14th the week and shot 3 of his 4 rounds in the 60s. Big whoop, right? That’s not exactly a recipe that leads to your name landing on my winner list after a big tournament. If you’ve read this site since its inception you know that I’m a big fan or Mrs. Day. Yes, she’s not as hot as she was before she pushed his giant son out of her box, but she’s still easy on the eyes and a delightful person by all accounts.
Now I’m an even bigger fan of hers. A little birdie told me that there is a rumor floating around the tour life about Ellie’s daily routine. Apparently she wakes up every morning and blows Jason. Yeah, you read that right. Every fucking morning she’s playing a skinned flute solo on her hubby. That’s every guy’s dream, isn’t it? I wonder if there’s ever a day where JD wakes up with the trots and tells her to skip the ritual. If there’s even half the truth to this rumor, that has to land Day on this week’s winners.
Dustin Johnson – Dustin didn’t exactly have a great 2013, in fact, he played like shit for most of it outside of his win at Kapalua. However, at East Lake he showed some signs of life with a top five finish and four rounds in the 60s. That’s progress. Plus, he gets to go home and fuck Paulina until his dick explodes. That makes him a winner this week when not many others were.
Here’s her latest #Insty from last week when she was hanging out with her friend.
She was of course spotted in Atlanta watching her future hubby tee it up last week as well:
Do any of you wonder like I do if Dustin allows her to eat actual solid food? It’s really a shame DJ didn’t make the Presidents Cup team. The WAG team photos won’t be as much fun without Ms. Gretzky.
Tiger – If you didn’t’ see any of the Tour Championship you’re probably wondering how the fuck this post has gone this long without a mere mention of Tiger Woods. Well, in short, TW played shitty and never contended. He was last in the field in total driving and ball striking stats. That’s putrid. On Thursday Woods played one of only seven rounds in his professional career without a birdie. On Friday he was several under through his first 13 holes and gave it all back on the last 5. He did manage to grind out a few rounds in the 60s on the weekend, but by then he was out of contention and it was clear he couldn’t win the 10 million dollar prize due to the play of Stricker and Stenson.
I feel like Tiger gets put on the loser side of my list after all these tournaments. When you’re the number 1 player in the world and have won 5 times on tour for the year, you have to perform better in these types of events. He was the favorite to come to Atlanta and win the cup and failed to do so. He’s also of course still major-less for 5 years and counting, but he’ll likely win Player of the Year by default because Phil and Adam Scott did nothing to help their cases last week.
What we did see this weekend was Tiger’s kids at East Lake with their new mommy…errr…. I mean, Tiger’s girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn. That also lands him on the loser list. Not because he had his kids there. That’s great and I’m happy to see it. What I don’t get it why he’s with Vonn. I’ll contest to the hilt that she’s a pig. If you ranked wives and girlfriends of tour players on their looks, she’d be in the bottom 5 percent.
Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, & Rory McIlroy – That’s 1/3 of the 2012 European Ryder Cup team. Why are they losers? Because they all play the American tour full time and not a single one of them played well enough in 2013 to qualify for the Tour Championship. That’s pathetic when you stop and think about it.
Sure they’re all millionaires who probably care less about playing an extra week for another truck full of money, but they’re all competitors too. You think they want to be sitting home while a championship is being played? No fucking way. Instead, that’s exactly what they’re doing, they’re at home tweeting about bullshit soccer matches while their peers compete on a big stage. Sorry boys, but that makes you all losers this week. Deal with it and play better next year.
NBC – By no fault of their own, the proud peacock makes their way to the loser list for a few reasons. First, Tiger was never in contention and therefore the ratings NBC will get suffer as viewers turn to football being shown on other networks over the weekend. Second, Stenson’s dominant performance ended any and all drama before he got to 18. Once his tee shot at 17 found dry land this thing was over. No Tiger, no drama, that’s a bad week for any network.
Keegan Bradley – Keegs tied for 12th and hit the shot of the day on Sunday. That shouldn’t land you on the loser side of the ledger, should it? It does when you do what he did. Take a look:
Dufnering was sooooooo early spring. Aren’t we done with it now? It’s mildly entertaining because Bradley is actually playing along side good friend Jason Dufner while doing it. I still don’t like it. You just holed out and the first thing you think to do is that? These two pull no punches when needling each other, following them both on Twitter quickly tells you that, but this was nerdy. You think I’m being a grumpy old man about this? You’re probably right, but this isn’t your list, is it?
Graham DeLaet’s Beard – As an ode to his mother country of Canada’s favorite past time, Graham DeLaet grew a playoff beard for the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs. DeLaet played well enough in the early events of the playoffs to advance and got some media attention for growing pubes on his face for 5 weeks. That’s a smart move when you don’t have a lot of cache or star power.
As soon as his 4th round in Atlanta was complete DeLaet rushed to the locker room to shave it off. He walked unrecognized to his car to leave the grounds and the playoff beard was officially dead.
I covered the unfortunate side of NBC’s weekend above. Through no fault of their own, they didn’t get the contenders and drama they were hoping for. As for their actual coverage, they did what true pros do and covered the event to the best of their ability. Their use of hole graphics, putting animation, and slow motion swing analysis helped supplement the coverage at just the right amount. I particularly enjoyed the slow-mo view of Dustin Johnson’s 370 yard drive on the 9th hole.
Dan Hick’s voice hasn’t always been one that I enjoy, but I have a new found respect for Dan and his craft after hearing him at work this weekend. Dan is the new play-by-play commentator of Notre Dame home football games on NBC. On Saturday Hicks was in South Bend, Indiana doing the Irish game. By Sunday he’d hopped a flight to Atlanta to join Johnny and the gang to call the Fed Ex finale. Take note Jimmy Nantz.
I loved NBC getting the gritty details of Steve Stricker’s pencil lead injury. That’s top notch shit right there. I’m not even joking. Stricker shoved his hand blindly into his bag to grab an energy bar when making the turn and a loose pencil in the bag pierced his skin leaving a piece of lead in his hand. Stricker sought medical attention and let the course reporter know what had happened. NBC was all over it and covered it beautifully, as they should have, because this could have been a factor down the stretch given how the lead under the skin might have affected Striks’ hand. They even showed viewers the video of the incident! Unfortunately, Johnny Miller chimed in just in time to kill the neat and quirky story to tell us how he too once jammed a pencil in his hand and the lead is still in his finger. John…..we don’t care, this isn’t supposed to be about you.
This post is a day late and a dollar short because I was out of town playing 90 holes of golf over the weekend and finally got a chance to sit down and watch the telecast from Sunday on my DVR. I hope you weren’t too disappointed to wake up on Monday with nothing new to read. The good news is my trip took me to a few courses that are worth reviewing. If you like those then be patient with me and I’ll try to provide a few in the coming weeks.