Stenson maintains 4-shot lead at Tour Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 21, 2013, 9:34 pm

ATLANTA – Stepping in from rain that ruined his rhythm and the back end of his round, Henrik Stenson was more interested in looking forward at the Tour Championship.

He still had a four-shot lead.

He was one round from capturing two trophies worth $11.44 million, including the FedEx Cup.

The Swede just made the final day of the PGA Tour season a little more interesting over the last two hours of a dreary Saturday morning at East Lake. He had a nine-shot lead at the turn and walked off the 18th green with a three-putt bogey and his lead back to where it was at the start of the day.

''Of course, I want to win two,'' Stenson said after a 1-under 69. ''If I can't win two, I'll be very pleased to win one. If I'm winning nothing, it will probably be not so sweet from this position. But I didn't have anything when I came here, so we'll see what we'll leave with.''

Stenson appeared to have both wrapped up when he got up-and-down from a bunker on the par-5 ninth for a tap-in birdie to reach 14 under, nine shots clear of Dustin Johnson. Everything changed as the rain began to fall.


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Stenson made four bogeys on the back nine, it might have been worse if not for a pair of 12-foot putts he made on the 14th hole for bogey and the 17th hole for par. Johnson was five shots better on the back for a 67, matching the low round of a tough day for scoring and got into the last group.

''I think I'll choose to look at it from the bright side, even though the weather is not that bright at the moment,'' said Stenson, who was at 11-under 199. ''Started the day with a four-shot lead and I still got it. So that's all that matters really.''

Johnson and Steve Stricker, who had a 68 and was at 5-under 205, were the only players within six shots of him.

Johnson was the last man into the 30-man field at East Lake, and he left Chicago on Monday not sure whether he would get in. Now he at least has a shot to start and end the season with a victory. Johnson's other win this year was at Kapalua in the Tournament of Champions.

''If I keep driving it straight, then I'm going to give him a run tomorrow.''

Stenson, the No. 2 seed in the FedEx Cup, is still in great shape to go home with a lot of money – $10 million for winning the FedEx Cup, $1.44 million for winning the Tour Championship. Even if he were to finish third, he still would be in good shape to win golf's biggest payoff.

Tiger Woods, the No. 1 seed, didn't make a birdie until he chipped in on the 14th hole. He rallied for a 69, the first time he has broken par all week. Woods was at 3-over 213, 14 shots behind in a tie for 26th.

Among the other FedEx Cup possibilities Sunday:

-Stricker, who had a 68, could win the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship. He could win with a runner-up finish, provided Stenson finished lower than ninth and Zach Johnson - in the group at 4-under 206 – was worse than seventh.

-Zach Johnson, the No. 4 seed, still had a shot at the $10 million even without winning. He was seven shots behind, but one scenario is for him to finish runner-up and Stenson to finish third.

- Yes, even Dustin Johnson is mathematically still alive as the No. 30 seed. He would need to win (possible), have Woods finish last (possible) and make sure Stenson finishes in the 15th place (total long shot). Johnson wasn't interested in all that math and it wasn't his field of study at Coastal Carolina, anyway.

''They didn't require math,'' he said.

All he cares about are the scores, and he's still in with a chance after making up five shots on the back nine. That was mostly Stenson's doing. The Swede got loose with a few shots, and the rain didn't help.

''I can't really complain that it was any tougher for me than for anybody else,'' Stenson said. ''When you lose a little bit of momentum ... it's just hard to find your rhythm again when you're kind of jumping in and out from underneath an umbrella and trying to whack it to get back in underneath again. So it's a little more difficult, but we still kept it together. Like I said, we've still got a four-shot lead.''

If anything, he felt bad for Adam Scott, whom he led by four shots at the start of the day.

Scott felt so miserable overnight and Saturday morning that he had IV fluids administered at East Lake and showed up on the range only about 25 minutes before his tee time. He was sick and it showed with a 40 on the front nine. Scott wound up with a 74 to fall nine shots behind and was thankful to doctors for getting him ready to play.

''Pretty disappointed, because I felt like I could have made a run today,'' Scott said. ''When your body is feeling so lethargic and heavy, the club feels like it weighs 60 pounds. And it was just hard work to get anything moving.''

That might have ended his bid for PGA Tour player of the year. A win would have given the Masters champion three wins (including a major) and the FedEx Cup, which might have been enough to trump Woods and his five wins (no majors).

DIVOTS: Stenson was able to find another 4-wood overnight and played with 14 clubs. ''I didn't use it once,'' he said. ... Jordan Spieth, playing in the final group with Stenson and Scott, shot a 71 and was in the group seven shots behind with Justin Rose and Billy Horschel. ... Phil Mickelson shot 70 and was nine shots out of the lead.

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”


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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”