Stenson pads East Lake edge, leads by 4

By Will GraySeptember 20, 2013, 9:50 pm

On yet another day where birdies were relatively hard to come by at East Lake Golf Club, Henrik Stenson made it look pretty easy for the second day in a row. Here’s how things shape up heading into the third round of the Tour Championship, where the Swede now leads an elite field by four shots:

Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson (-10), Adam Scott (-6), Jordan Spieth (-5), Justin Rose (-4), Dustin Johnson (-4), Billy Horschel (-4)

What it means: Though two rounds remain at East Lake, Stenson appears poised to take home both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup titles. He once again got off to a hot start Friday, with three birdies across his first four holes, and his 10-under 130 total ties his career low for 36 holes.

Round of the day: A week after notching a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship, Nick Watney played his way back into the top 10 thanks to a 5-under 65 Friday in Atlanta. The veteran carded seven total birdies on his round, including three over his final four holes, and as a result was able to rebound from an opening 72 and move somewhat into contention, albeit seven shots behind Stenson’s lead.

Best of the rest: Former PGA champion Keegan Bradley matched Watney’s 65 for low round honors Friday, with six birdies against just a single dropped shot at the fifth hole. Bradley recorded four birdies across a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 9-15, and like Watney will now begin the weekend seven shots off the pace as he looks to continue his climb up the overall FedEx Cup standings.

Biggest disappointment: Through 13 holes, it appeared Tiger Woods was headed for “round of the day” honors, as the world No. 1 was 5 under on his round with just five holes remaining. He played that closing stretch in 6 over, though, a disappointing finish that included a triple-bogey 7 at No. 17 and left Woods with a 1-over 71 in the second round. At 4-over 144, he now finds himself tied for 26th among the 30-man field with just two rounds to play.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: With tee times moved up due to approaching inclement weather, the biggest question is whether or not Stenson will allow any of the elite players in this week’s field within striking distance. The Swede has largely put on a clinic through 36 holes, and now halfway to a season-long title shows no signs of slowing. If anyone can catch him, though, it may be Scott, who sits in second place and eyes Player of the Year honors that may come his way should he win Sunday.

Shot of the day: From 123 yards away in the opening fairway, Stenson stuck his wedge approach to within eight feet of the hole. The result continued his trend of accurate iron shots from Thursday's opening round, and the birdie helped propel the Swede to his second-round 66.

Quote of the day: “I just ran out of gas.” – Woods, after playing his final five holes Friday in 6 over.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.