Stenson lurking near 36-hole lead

By Rex HoggardAugust 12, 2016, 7:42 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – Henrik Stenson didn’t play handball growing up, instead focusing his youthful attention on the likes of soccer, golf, badminton and bandy, which the Swede described as “like soccer with skates;” but he certainly appreciates the athletic poetry of the sport.

“My dad played a lot of handball, so that's why I'm very familiar with that game,” he said.

All of which also made him appreciate when the Swedish men’s handball team showed up for Round 2 at the Olympic Golf Course fresh off their loss to Slovenia on Thursday night in group play.

Stenson arrived early in Rio to walk in the Opening Ceremony and watch his beloved Swedish handball team before getting back to the day job of winning a golf tournament.

“I’ve been watching them, it’s only fair they repay the favor,” Stenson smiled.

In retrospect, the Swedish handball players might have been in the gallery for more than just moral support considering Stenson’s play for two days at the Olympics.

The favorite for this week’s gold medal has lived up to that billing in Rio, opening his week with a 66 and enduring the worst of Friday’s weather for a 3-under 68 that left him two strokes off the lead held by Australia's Marcus Fraser.

For a player who had a reputation for being his own worst enemy at times on the golf course, Stenson has emerged over the last few weeks as a bona fide closer.

Flawless and fierce last month at Royal Troon, he answered every challenge Phil Mickelson could muster when he closed with a 63 for a three-stroke margin and his first major victory.


Olympic golf coverage: Articles, photos and videos


But if you’re counting style points, a gold medal this week for Stenson may be even more impressive than what he accomplished at The Open.

On Wednesday in Rio the normally personable Stenson had a rare edge to him, snapping at reporters after a barrage of questions about the new Olympic golf course and the collection of high-profile players who didn’t make the trip to Brazil. “Is anyone going to ask about my game?”

But if Stenson’s temperament seemed sharper than normal he’d come by it honestly considering he essentially went straight from The Open to the PGA Championship, where he tied for seventh, before making the trip to Rio.

On Wednesday he admitted to being worn down by the intensity of the last few weeks and employing an economy of energy to prepare for this week’s event.

Although Stenson has a history of making the most of a hot hand like he did in 2013 when he won two playoff events to claim the FedEx Cup and then the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, this time feels different. This time somehow feels more sustainable, more substantial.

There is a calm to Stenson this week that belies the importance of winning a gold medal that in no way is a reflection of how the 40-year-old feels about golf’s return to the Olympics.

Unlike many of the game’s other top players Stenson never wavered in his support of playing the Olympics, telling anyone who would ask he would value a gold medal just behind a major in importance. Yet he set out this week with a conviction that justified his status as the favorite.

“I saw the remarks that some guys were more nervous walking here. I actually felt kind of opposite,” he said following Round 2. “I don't know if it was because I was pretty clear on my game and what I was going to do. I felt less butterflies walking to the tee box than at some other events.”

That calm was tested early on Friday when a cold rain and heavy wind greeted the early starters. Stenson estimated he played the course’s toughest holes in the worst conditions and after birdies at Nos. 1 and 2, he made a mess of the 18th hole and faced a 108-foot putt for par.

“You're just standing there praying for a two-putt bogey,” said Stenson, who converted the par attempt. “Before I know it, I think it found the bottom of the cup. That's the longest putt I've made in my career.”

Stenson’s closing stretch was even more eventful when he played his last five holes without a par, a run that included two bogeys and three birdies.

However he got there, Stenson’s position near the top of an eclectic leaderboard was an ominous sign. It’s not exactly Michael Phelps at the turn of the 200-meter butterfly, but there is an air of intimidation to the Swede’s play this week that wasn’t there just six weeks ago.

“He's the man to beat, I reckon,” said Justin Rose, who is tied for fourth, two strokes behind Stenson. “He's obviously ice cold and we all know when he gets into a rhythm as we saw at Royal Troon, he's a pretty special player.”

Stenson’s nickname has never fit him perfectly. The Iceman can certainly look the part at times as he makes his way from shot to shot, but he’s certainly proven that he’s not above the occasional meltdown.

Just as it was starting to look like Stenson was poised to force his will on the Rio field, he acknowledged the 600-pound capybara in the room. For Stenson, just as it is for most players in this week’s field, the Olympics have proven to be much more than a curious experiment or exhibition.

“I'm sure that there will be butterflies if you've got a gold medal on the line on Sunday afternoon," he smiled. "I'm sure there might be one little one." 

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


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Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

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Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.