Ability to overcome is Stenson's recipe for success

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2013, 12:01 am

ATLANTA – In the last week, Henrik Stenson has broken a driver and a locker at Conway Farms, and flirted, however briefly, with breaking the course record at East Lake.

As an aside, he may have done a bit to break Tiger Woods’ spirits paired with the world No. 1 on Thursday at the Tour Championship.


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Not a bad news cycle for a guy who has played seven out of the last 10 weeks, but such is the dichotomy of the resurgent Swede. Having climbed from 230th in the world ranking in February 2012 to sixth, his resilience is rivaled only by his urbane ability to waffle between old habits and new hope.

On Monday, Stenson shattered his driver on his way to a tie for 33rd at the BMW Championship. He dismantled a locker before bolting town, and awoke Wednesday with so much pain in his left wrist that he couldn’t hold a toothbrush. A day later he found himself smiling atop the East Lake leaderboard following a 64 for the first-round lead at the finale.

“I just needed to realize the world is a good place again,” said Stenson, who was paired with Woods on Day 1 and clipped the FedEx Cup frontrunner by nine strokes. “I’m there now for sure, and I intend to stay there.”

Of course, the obvious follow-up question is how can a player who is two weeks removed from his first PGA Tour title in four seasons slip from the top of the mountain to the mental abyss so quickly.

“I can hear you don't have much experience with Swedes, do you?” he deadpanned.

Fair enough. But that still doesn’t explain an ailing golfer, both physically and mentally, who fixed things on the fly to the tune of 9 of 14 fairways (T-6), 15 of 18 greens in regulation (T-2) and 27 putts (T-1) in the span of three days.

Consider that Stenson spent Wednesday on the range testing a new driver – he went with TaylorMade’s new SLDR model, figuring, “(Breaking the old driver) was a blessing in disguise.” – and nursing a wrist that flared up two weeks ago before heading out onto a golf course he’d never seen in its entirety and going 6 under.

“It's always nice to play them, but it's not the end of the world if you can't,” said Stenson, who played the front nine on Tuesday and walked the inward loop to save his ailing wrist on Wednesday. “I got a good look at them, and a lot of holes seem to be pretty straightforward.”

In a related item, practice rounds across the PGA Tour have been declared overrated.

Stenson’s talent has never been in question. “I played with him a couple of times and thought, ‘How does he not win every week?’” said Paul Goydos.

Nor has his inability to overcome adversity (his current slump-busting run is the second of his career) ever been in doubt. Staying out of mental prisons, however, has proven to be something of a challenge.

“I’ve always been a bit of a hot-head, and it kind of builds up and eventually it goes over the limit,” he admitted. “For me, it comes down to being tired. I played so much golf. I played so well, and I just haven’t been able to get any rest.”

Sleep deprivation and a closing-round 74 at the BMW added up to Monday’s meltdown. In Stenson’s defense, he apologized to the locker-room attendants at Conway Farms before he left the property on Monday and offered to pay for any damages.

Few can close a chapter so quickly and effortlessly, which is perhaps Stenson’s best asset – beyond that nuclear driver and velvety touch on the greens.

The challenge now is avoiding similar burnout down the homestretch, if not East Lake’s rough. Since his runner-up finish at the Open Championship, Stenson has been in contention in all but two of his starts and the pressure, although he’s come by it honestly, is only mounting.

After starting the week second in the FedEx Cup ranking, Stenson is one of five players who are guaranteed to claim the $10 million bonanza with a win on Sunday at East Lake.

After a torrid start on Thursday – he birdied five of his first seven holes and didn’t need to make a putt over 9 ½ feet in that stretch – he cooled on the closing nine. A bogey at the 16th dropped him into a tie with Adam Scott, but Stenson hit his tee shot at the last to 4 feet for birdie to pull back in front.

All in all, an astounding rally considering where he was physically and mentally to begin the week, and a testament to a player prone to extremes but balanced enough to find the middle ground when he needs it the most.

“I’m really delighted with the change I made today,” he smiled before trotting toward the East Lake clubhouse, 54 holes away from breaking the FedEx Cup bank.

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Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.


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Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.


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''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

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Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.


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But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.