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

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”