Stenson romps to Players Championship

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Henrik Stenson was famous for reasons he never imagined.
 
Two months ago, he was best known as the Swede who stripped down to nothing but his underwear and a golf glove while playing from a water hazard at Doral. Out of curiosity, he searched the Internet and found 143 articles, more news than he ever got for his game.
 
Henrik and Lisa Stenson
Henrik Stenson is greeted by his daughter after his impressive win. (Getty Images)
I guess I got as much attention off that thing as from my results the last 10 years, he said.
 
His golf was all the rage Sunday at The Players Championship.
 
With a final round that was close to perfect, Stenson was the only player to keep bogeys off his card on his way to a 6-under 66 that gave him a four-shot victory, the 10th of his career and by far his biggest.
 
This is obviously going to be the latest thing on the resume, Stenson said.
 
Trailing by five shots on the treacherous TPC Sawgrass, he took advantage of a swift and shocking collapse by Alex Cejka, never had to worry about Tiger Woods and blew away everyone else in firm, fast conditions rarely seen this side of a major.
 
I was thinking this that if I could finish in front of Tiger, that might be good enough, said Ian Poulter, who shot a 70 and to finish second. But I wasnt expecting someone to go out there and shoot 66.
 
The sun-baked gallery was curious how Cejka would fare with a five-shot lead playing in the final group with Woods. Four holes and a little more than an hour into the final round, the lead was gone. Cejka shot 42 on the front and wound up with a 79.
 
Focus quickly shifted to Woods, and whether he could rally to win from five shots behind as he did at Bay Hill. But not this time. Woods missed three fairways that led to bogeys on the front nine, and trailed by as many as eight shots on the back nine.
 
When youre playing a golf course like this and you dont have it, and the greens are this fast and this hard, you can shoot some pretty high numbers, he said.
 
Woods managed a 73 to finish eighth, his first top 10 at The Players Championship since he won in 2001, and his 16th consecutive top 10 in stroke-play events worldwide.
 
Stenson played so well that he had a four-shot leading standing on the 17th tee, his only mission to make sure it found grass beneath it. He kept his bogey-free round in tact to the end, walking off the green with his daughter in his arms.
 
Its just going to give me a lot of confidence to go out there and control myself and play as well as I did on the last day at TPC Sawgrass and to hold off such a strong field, he said. Its just going to give me a lot of confidence going into the majors. Obviously, if I can play as well as I did today, I surely can do it on a Sunday at the majors.
 
Stenson finished at 12-under 276 and earned $1.71 million for a victory that moves him to No. 5 in the world ranking.
 
John Mallinger (70) and Kevin Na (70) tied for third. They were among a dozen players who had hopes of winning on the back nine, one of the most unpredictable stretches in golf.
 
Stenson, a Swede who shows little emotion even when playing in his skivvies, never gave anyone much hope. His 66 matched the best score of the final round ' Aaron Baddeley also had a 66 with the first tee time of the day ' and was nearly 7.5 strokes better than the field average.
 
Stenson missed only one fairway.
 
The only times he came remotely close to a bogey, he holed par putts of 8 feet on the front nine.
 
Stenson rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt from just short of the seventh green and joined a four-way tie atop the leaderboard that included Poulter, Ben Crane and Retief Goosen. Stenson took the outright lead with a two-putt birdie from 55 feet on the fringe at the ninth.
 
It was over a short time later.
 
Stenson hammered a tee shot'the only time he hit driver in the final round ' on the par-5 11th, hit 4-iron to a front bunker and blasted out to 6 feet for birdie. He took aim at the flag on the par-3 13th for a 10-footer, then seized control for good after watching Poulter celebrate a birdie on the 15th to pull within two shots.
 
Stenson hit wedge to 2 1/2 feet to match him, then reached the par-5 16th in two for another birdie. And once his ball found the island green at No. 17, he could relax.
 
I could afford to go bogey-bogey and still win it, Stenson said. Thats always a handy situation to be in.
 
Stensons other U.S. victory came at the Accenture Match Play Championship two years ago against the top 64 players in the world. He also won in Dubai, finishing two shots ahead of Woods. The Players has the strongest and deepest field in golf.
 
It just seems to bring the best out of me when I have to, playing the best players, Stenson said. And obviously, now I feel like Im up there where I belong when Im playing good.
 
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  • Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''