What We Learned: Stenson wins Deutsche Bank

By Randall MellSeptember 2, 2013, 11:48 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Henrik Stenson, who could be the hottest player in the game after his win at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship, the positives of the new Web.com Finals format and Presidents Cup captain's picks.

Henrik Stenson is an inspiration to any athlete who has ever lost his way.

Twice, the man has reinvented himself.

Back in '01, Stenson won the Benson & Hedges Open for his first European Tour title. Two months later, he walked off the course in the middle of a tournament because he couldn't keep his golf ball in bounds. He was so desperate to find a fix to his wayward swing, he experimented hitting balls with his eyes closed. He found his way back all right, rising to No. 4 in the world in '09, only to lose his way again – his game beginning to reel that year in the wake of news that he lost a large chunk of his life savings as a victim in the Stanford Financial Ponzi scheme. He plummeted to No. 230 in the world before finding himself again.

Stenson might be the hottest player on the planet in the men's game today with his victory Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. His game, his story, should inspire the lost among us.  Randall Mell

The traditionalists are going to whine and complain and pound their fists on the keyboard, but I’ve got to make an admission: I’m kinda diggin’ this Web.com Finals format. Yeah, yeah. I know anyone who considers himself a true purist of the game is still lamenting the downfall of Q-School as we knew it. But here’s a little secret: This format is better. Way better. Not only does it feature an eclectic mix of PGA Tour stalwarts whose games have gone south, Web.com regulars who didn’t quite make it and up-and-comers trying to reach their dream, but the fact that it gives players four opportunities to claim a PGA Tour card makes for even more drama as it continues. And more importantly, it should weed out the guys who had a solid six-day stretch in the desert, but don’t necessarily have the chops for the big leagues. Just check out the first winner. Trevor Immelman is a Masters champion who was forced to compete here. Now he’ll be back where he belongs. You can keep whining about the demise of Q-School – it’s still there, but only to dole out Web.com cards; personally, I’d like to see maybe five PGA Tour cards still awarded there – but the alternative proves once again that not all change in the game has to be viewed through a cynical lens. – Jason Sobel

No traditional Q-School? No problem. The Web.com Tour Finals, just one week old, have already established themselves as a better gateway to the big Tour than the old qualifying tournament. Sure, the romanticism is gone. No longer can a dreamer with just an entry fee and a solid golf game go from the pro shop to the Big Show. But that’s probably a good thing. The five-day stress-fest known as Q-School didn’t always produce the best graduates. Don’t forget: A year ago, Jordan Spieth couldn’t even make it out of Q-School’s second stage. Now he’s on his way to the Tour Championship and, most likely, the Presidents Cup. Give me four weeks of competition on championship golf courses, with players who are either young up-and-comers (Patrick Cantlay), in need of a second chance (Bud Cauley), or perhaps even a wake-up call (Trevor Immelman). Are these Finals as compelling as Q-School? Maybe not. But it produces more deserving graduates. – Ryan Lavner

That U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples may have tougher choices to make on Wednesday than International counterpart Nick Price. Couples’ choices for his two captain’s picks will likely come down to Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, and rookie sensation Jordan Spieth. Price’s picks won’t be easy, but at least he won’t have to choose between a U.S. Open champion, an American team staple and a player many are calling the next great U.S. player. – Rex Hoggard

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."