Keeping His Cool

By Rex HoggardMay 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' The Players had all the elements of a major championship: a baked-out golf course, a diverse leaderboard, a three-quarter time Tiger Woods and, inevitably, an Iceman that kept his cool on a scorching day to add to his collection of mid-major keepsakes.
 
Substitute stoic Swede Henrik Stenson for stoic Argentine Angel Cabrera, a two-time winner of a major not of the faux variety, and the 36th Players was a major, in form if not function.
 
Henrik and Lisa Stenson
Henrik Stenson is greeted by his daughter after his impressive win. (Getty Images)
Whether the Tours pride and joy ever ascends to Grand Slam status was lost amid a flurried Sunday of two-way traffic, two-way misses and a final two-ball that fell out of touch quicker than Donald Trump.
 
Add up all the notches on Henrik Stensons prolific 3-wood and even a BCS computer would spit out a singular sum ' world beater.
 
In a single flurried February in 2007 Stenson clipped Ernie Els (by one shot) and Woods (by two) at the Dubai Desert Classic and dusted off his first American victory at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship ' an event that featured the worlds top 64 professional breadwinners, including Woods ' in clinical fashion.
 
But since then Stenson had failed to add to his global trophy case. Part of his stalled ascent was suspect driving, and part was a suspect psyche.
 
I was quite wayward, and I contacted (Dr. Bob Rotella) to have somebody to chat about different things and get some tips on focusing on the right stuff, Stenson said. I wouldn't still say that I'm 100 percent confident with my driver, and obviously that's why I like this golf course as of now, because I don't need to hit that many drivers.
 
Instead the big Swede pounded Pete Dyes mounded madness into submission with what one player at the 07 Match Play called a nuclear 3-wood that was so effective he played from something other than Sawgrass manicured fairways just twice over his final 36 holes.
 
Yet even with that trusty 3-wood in tow, few outside of the assembled Stenson clan ' which included his father, mother, sister and wife, Emma ' were giving the European Ryder Cup fixture much of a chance as the final round got underway with an unproven Czech-born German pinned to a five-stroke advantage and Woods sounding nothing like a man who spent more time in the pine straw than the prescribed parchment the first two laps around the Stadium Course.
 
Hardly a month earlier Woods had started his last 18 on another brutish Florida track five lengths down and proved again that hes the best closer in sports not named Jonathan Papelbon.
 
The script was clear: Woods would close the gap on surprise 54-hole frontrunner Alex Cejka by the time the Sunday brunch buffet was pulled and outlast any comers down the stretch. The prognosticators were only half right.
 
Cejka would fade, painfully at times, but it wouldnt be Woods picking up the pieces.
 
Less than an hour into his round, Cejka had squandered the largest 54-hole lead in Players history, playing his first four holes in 3 over, and, along with Woods, quickly became background noise. It was a mystifying distraction on a day that mystified the status quo.
 
For his part Cejka was at ease with his plight, although that didnt stop him from tinkering in the art of denial: I hit good shots, but I got bad breaks, bad lies, didnt make a putt.
 
The golf gods havent held a grudge that sinister since Sergio Garcia went down whining at the 2007 British Open, and Cejkas take brings to mind a longtime caddie yard axiom. Three things that dont last: dogs that chase cars, caddies who close bars and players who putt for pars. And on Sunday Cejka spent more time scrambling than former Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington.
 
Through nine holes on Sunday Cejka had failed to hit a single fairway and just two greens in regulation and all those bad breaks added up to an opening effort of 42 and a closing card that featured the same number of bogeys (six) hed totaled for his first 54 holes.
 
Woods wasnt much better.
 
On Sunday the world No. 1 reiterated an often-used line, Im close. But in the grand scheme of things he was never really close to Stenson.
 
Although he turned in even par, his round was full of the type of unforced errors that have turned trophy presentations into hasty exits for Woods. A sloppy wedge over the green at the ninth led to a ground-loosing par and he caught a chip heavy on the 10th for bogey.
 
Ill fix it, no problem, Woods said of a swing that has appeared an octave off since a Utah surgeon did an extreme knee makeover. We know what it is, its just a matter of me doing.
 
Nobody knows Woods swing better than Woods, and he has five weeks and probably one more start ' likely the Memorial ' to steady the ship before the U.S. Open, but Cejka seemed to sum his playing partners day, if not his week.
 
He didnt really hit many good shots, but his short game is so good, Cejka said. It should have been a 5 over by the way he played. Were all human. We cant play 100 percent all the time. We saw that last week (at Quail Hollow).
 
His statistical line for the week was hardly a recipe for success at a major, or minor, event. He ranked 74th in fairways hit, 46th in greens in regulation and 33rd in putting, and even though his eight-place showing was his fifth top 10 in five stroke-play outings, the questions will persist because he is Tiger Woods.
 
I'm a little bit surprised, but to be honest, I've watched a little bit of the highlights. He's got a lot out of the golf course this week for certain positions that he's hit it in, Ian Poulter said. He's hit it in a couple of spots which if Joe Average hits it in there, he's shooting 3-, 4-, 5-over par on the day. Tiger Woods is not going to do that, he's too good. His short game is too good. He always hangs around.
 
No one, however, was going to outlast Stenson. His closing 66 tied for low round of the day under the most intense conditions. He was nearly perfect on the weekend, missing just two fairways and playing his final 18 holes without a bogey.
 
After a solid front nine, Stenson birdied three of his first six holes on the back and by the time he reached the par-5 16th he was 3 up and virtually dormie. A two-putt birdie made the feared final two seem like a coronation.
 
Henrik put his foot down and sped past everybody. That was a hell of a round of golf out there today, Poulter said. Those greens were icy quick. Ive never seen them that color except at an Open.
 
Emma Stenson smiled when someone mentioned the incident earlier this year at the WGC-CA Championship when Henrik stripped down to his unmentionables to play a shot out of a Doral water hazard. Would he take a dive into the murky lake guarding TPCs 18th like Jerry Pate did in 1982?
 
As long as he keeps his clothes on, Emma Stenson smiled.
 
Stenson stayed dry, on the 18th hole and in his post-round comments: Ill save that for a day of drizzle, he deadpanned.
 
Its just as well since his play seems to be making a big enough splash at the games most important events.
 
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”