Stenson taking PGA preparation easy after hot streak

By Rex HoggardAugust 6, 2013, 12:05 am

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – In running shoes and without a golf club in sight Henrik Stenson wandered his way about Oak Hill on Monday with all the urgency of a retiree waiting on an early bird special.

“Just had a stroll around. Checked out the lines and where to hit it,” Stenson said. “Just trying to conserve a bit of energy. I have a busy couple of days behind me so I figured I’d walk it once and then maybe play nine on Tuesday and Wednesday or maybe just 18 tomorrow.”

Seems about right that the hottest player in golf not named Tiger or Phil needed a slow-down day – turn off, tune out, check out.

Stenson’s fast track back into the top 15 in the world ranking began in the spring when he tied for eighth at Bay Hill and second to D.A. Points a week later at the Shell Houston Open to play his way into the top 50 (42nd) and earn a spot at the Masters.

Since then he’s played his way back onto the A-list of golf’s elite players, starting with his tie for third at the Scottish Open and consecutive runner-up finishes at the Open Championship to Phil Mickelson and last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to Tiger Woods.

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Not bad company for a player who bottomed out, statistically speaking, early last year when he ballooned to 230th in the world following a dismal 2011 on both sides of the Atlantic divide. He finished 166th in PGA Tour earnings in ’11 and 136th on Europe’s Race for Dubai money list.

Since those dark days, Stenson has climbed to 11th in the world ranking, the highest he’s been since March 2010, 12th on the FedEx Cup points list and first in European Tour earnings.

“I’ve made a great run in a month’s time at three of the biggest tournaments that we have,” he said at the PGA Championship. “That’s going to show up in the world ranking. That’s very pleasing.”

To truly gauge the climb it’s important to put the tumble in perspective.

Consider that in 2009 when he bombed 3-wood to victory at The Players Championship his resume already included a World Golf Championship (2007 Accenture-Match Play) and he was on the short list of players most likely to win their first major.

He came close in 2008 at the Open Championship (T-3) and was a distant third in 2010 at St. Andrews, but that’s when things started to become difficult for the Iceman. Hitting fairways became a challenge (in 2011 he ranked 163rd on Tour in driving accuracy) and he failed to qualify for the 2010 and ’12 European Ryder Cup teams.

Slowly, methodically, he made his way back to relevancy. No short cuts, no quick fixes, just hard work and the belief that the talent remained unchanged, only the methods needed to be adjusted.

“It’s been a long-time progress, long-time work that’s paying off. You never know when you’re going to get it. Obviously, I’ve got a lot in one month here but there’s no point in being satisfied. I have things that I’m working on and trying to improve,” Stenson said. “It’s just nice to be back to where I know I can be when I’m playing well.”

Still, Stenson said with a piercing glare, “work in progress.”

In practical terms, Stenson’s play – specifically over the last month – has had the added benefit of solidifying his schedule for not just the rest of this season but for 2014 as well.

He plans to play all four FedEx Cup playoff events before taking a month off to rest for his season-ending push in Europe – a run that will include six events in seven weeks with stops in Dubai, Asia and Turkey.

The hardest part of Stenson’s run has been finding ways to conserve his energy now that competitive demands have supplanted professional necessity.

“It’s very pleasing to make that push because at the end of last year, I played two in Europe, then straight to Sea Island (McGladrey Classic in Georgia), then Shanghai. It took me like six days to find my head after that one,” he said. “When you’re jumping across the world with six-hour time differences it’s easy to watch from home. Sooner or later you’re paying a price for that.”

Right up there with jetlag among life’s certainties was Stenson’s belief that his competitive swoon would not last, talent and determination have a way of making certain of that. He just made it look as easy as a Monday stroll around Oak Hill.

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.