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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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.

Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington


• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”

The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos

Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.