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