By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Henrik Stenson was one of the hottest players on the planet over the summer as he steamrolled his way to the FedExCup.
He won twice in his final three PGA TOUR events, the second coming at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, to earn the $10 million bonus. In fact, he closed out the season with five finishes of third or better in his last seven starts.
Stenson is making his 2013-14 PGA TOUR debut this week and along with the 550 FedExCup points available, the Swede has his eye on another lucrative prize. He currently leads the European Tour's Race to Dubai -- and no one has won that bonus in the same season as the FedExCup.
Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy have won the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic. But the dual bonus titles is uncharted territory and the
This week's World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions counts as official money -- and Race to Dubai points -- on the European Tour, as well as the PGA TOUR. Stenson currently has 2,154,099 points while Graeme McDowell, who is second, has 1,710,374 and U.S. Open champ Justin Rose is another 49,153 behind.
"It's only one top finish from any one of the guys, or a couple of the guys, behind me to catch me or move beyond," Stenson said as he embarked on the four-event finale. "So I'm just going to focus on my game and try to have some good weeks. Hopefully, I can get one really good week out of these four, and that should hopefully give me a shot at the overall title."
Rose is well-aware of Stenson's unprecedented quest.
"Obviously Henrik is chasing down history this year in terms of winning both ... bonus titles, the FedExCup and The Race to Dubai," Rose said. "So I know the money list has been achieved but not what he's going for, both trophies.
"He's a good friend of mine, and I'll certainly be pleased for him if he's the guy to do it but obviously I want to make it as tough as I can for him. Obviously I have to get past Graeme McDowell, too.
Stenson, who was battling a cold and a nagging wrist injury that also flared up during the FedExCup finale at East Lake, played last week in the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group, which is the first of the four events that comprise "The Final Series" and tied for 34th.
With shares of an $8.5 million purse on offer in Shanghai, the Swede will certainly be hoping for a better result -- but a closing 65 Sunday at Lake Malaren could be just the send-off he needed.
The BMW Masters was Stenson's first start since the dual victories at East Lake. He tied for 13th in Shanghai in 2010 and will be seeking his second World Golf Championships title after winning the 2007 Accenture Match Play Championship.
“This is obviously a big event on our schedule and one which we always look forward to,” Stenson told the Courier in the UK. "“It is one of the strongest fields of the season and I have played quite well at Sheshan before, so I’m hoping for a good week. I need to have some good results if I am going to finish on top and win the Race to Dubai.
“I imagine it will still be quite open when we get to Dubai, so if I can have a good result this week it will really help me. If not, I will keep working away."
This week's Frys.com Open is the opening event of the PGA TOUR's 2013-14 season, which now has a wraparound schedule through the end of next year's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Unlike previous years, the events after the TOUR Championship this year now include full FedExCup points. That means players who participate in the six events before the winter break can get a jump on the FedExCup points list. The winner of this week's event, for instance, receives 500 points and will be the Week 1 leader.
We thought it would be fun to check out what the FedExCup standings would have been like based on the most recent results from the six events in this season-opening stretch. Tournaments include Frys.com Open, Shriners Hospital for Children Open, CIMB Classic, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, The McGladrey Classic and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
If points had been applied last year, Jonas Blixt would've been your FedExCup leader going into the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January of 2013.
Here's how the top 50 in FedExCup points would have shaped up based on the results of those six events (* - winner of one of the six tournaments):
|1||Jonas Blixt *
|2||Nick Watney *
|3||John Huh *
|4||Ian Poulter *
||550||29||Davis Love III
|5||Brendon de Jonge||530||30||Chris Kirk
|6||Ryan Moore *
|7||Tommy Gainey *
|14||Bo Van Pelt
|21||Charles Howell III
||197||46||Richard H. Lee
|22||Phil Mickelson||192||47||Gaganeet Bhullar
The 2013-14 PGA TOUR season begins at this week's Frys.com Open at CordeValle Resort in San Martin, Calif. This is the first year that the TOUR season will start shortly after the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola instead of in January. The 2013-14 season's first six events will be played in 2013. Those half-dozen events will be played in six consecutive weeks in four different countries. The TOUR will then take a short break before resuming with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in the first week of January.
This also is the first year that the TOUR's fall events will offer FedExCup points. Success in these six events can give players an early jump in the season-long points race. Click here to see who our experts think will lead the FedExCup at the end of 2013. Leave your opinion in the comments section below.
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
You would think a great player like Henrik Stenson does not need to work on his confidence. However, Henrik stated that after his poor play coming home on Sunday at East Lake in the rain, his confidence was a bit shaken. Even on Sunday, Stenson said his confidence was not roaring, yet he managed to win the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup. Congrats!
Stenson was illustrating that keeping your confidence day to day is difficult even for the best players in the world. The same holds true for any level of amateur.
While confidence is an essential ingredient for playing good golf, it is as fickle as an 8-year-old boy in a candy store. One moment he wants to try the sweet Gummy Bears and the next he will gobble up the sour chews. Good shots on the golf course can create that sweet air of invincibility. A couple of bad shots can sour your attitude and perception of golf ability.
Psychologists have discovered that remembering former actions on the course can help to build and keep your confidence. Interestingly, Stenson used this method to win this weekend. He recalled a time when he had a 3-shot lead in the final round last year on the European Tour. He had some tight moments during the round, but he went on to win that event. He used that positive experience to boost his confidence in knowing he could win again in a tight situation.
Here are some recommendations to help keep your confidence when your play has gone south for a few holes:
1. Get a best-shots book. In this book, write down some of your best shots, the ones you really nailed. Write down when you hit them and how you felt. Put this in your golf bag and look at it once a round to keep your confidence roaring.
2. Make a best swing video. Have a video of your best swings and look at it every week. This will keep positive visualizations of your game very fresh in your mind.
3. Choose to be confident. Regardless of how you are playing, you can always choose to be confident. This is very difficult, but with practice you can choose to be confident regardless of how you are playing.
Let’s be honest, keeping your confidence is very difficult when your game stinks. It takes hard work to keep your confidence every day. These suggestions will put you on the right track so that when your confidence train goes in the wrong direction, you will be able to guide it back in the right direction.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at email@example.com for any comments or questions about your mental game.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Henrik Stenson completed a wire-to-wire victory at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola on Sunday and walked away with the biggest prize in golf in the process.
Stenson's three-stroke victory, his second win in his last three starts, gave him the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus. The Swede, who also won $1.44 million for the TOUR Championship title, joined Bill Haas as the only players to win the FedExCup in their debuts at East Lake Golf Club.
Stenson is the first European to win the FedExCup in its seven-year history.
Sunday's win also completes a fantastic stretch in the last two months of the PGA TOUR season in which Stenson arguably played the best golf of anybody in the world. He won two TOUR events -- including the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second event in the FedExCup Playoffs -- and had three other top-three finishes in his last seven starts.
"It's been an incredible run," Stenson said during the trophy ceremony following Sunday's win. "I don't know what to say. I'm speechless."
Stenson, who came into the week ranked second in the FedExCup standings, closed with a 68, his fourth straight sub-par round, one of only two players to accomplish the feat. He finished at 13 under, three stokes ahead of Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker, who tied for second.
Making his first career start at East Lake, Stenson's ball-striking was superb this week. He ranked first in the field in greens in regulation, htting nearly 78 percent of his green. He was tied for third in driving accuracy. And no one in the field played the par-3 holes better than he did -- five of his 20 birdies came on par 3s.
Spieth, Stricker and Dustin Johnson made sure it wasn't a cakewalk for the man who started the final round with a four-stroke advantage.
Spieth, the 20-year-old phenom who had no status on the PGA TOUR at the start of the season, shot a 64 on Sunday that moved him to 10 under. Spieth, who ranks sixth on TOUR in final-round scoring average, birdied three straight to close the front nine and four in a row on the back before a bogey from the greenside bunker at the 17th hole all but ended his title bid.
Stricker, who had played his way into the top five who controlled their own FedExCup destiny during the first three rounds, bogeyed his first hole but went on to make four birdies and his first eagle in 572 holes at East Lake to put some pressure on Stenson. But in the end his 65 left the man who had once planned on going bow-hunting for elk in Colorado this week, three strokes behind.
Johnson, who was playing with Stenson, fell behind early with consecutive bogeys at the fifth and sixth holes. But he briefly joined the group at 10 under when he made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine before ending his bid with a messy triple bogey at No. 17.
But Stenson, who ran roughshod on East Lake's front nine this week with a cumulative 14 under, kept his stumbles to a minimum on the back nine Sunday. After a bogey at the par-4 14th, his lead had dwindled to two shots over Spieth. But he bounced back with a birdie at the par-5 15th, then almost holed out his bunker shot at 16 to easily save par there.
Stenson needed just 13 putts on the back nine Sunday. Since 1992, just three other champions needed 13 or fewer putts on their final nine holes en route to victory -- Jim Furyk in 2010 (13 putts); Adam Scott in 2006 (12 putts); and Paul Azinger in 1992 (13 putts).
"it was a tough day, absolutely," Stenson said. "I mean, especially with so many things going on at the same time here. I kind of knew, well, even if I don't win today, I could still win the FedExCup. Do you want to focus on that? At the end of the day, it was all about going out there and trying my best and try to win this golf tournament because then I knew I was going to leave with two trophies.
"That was the hard bit to put everything aside, as always, and focus on the right things. I didn't play my best round today, but I was hanging in there, took the right decisions."
Said Spieth about his chase of Stenson: "I really wasn't looking at the boards. I figured he was up there a ways. He still had 15 to play. So that's an automatic birdie for him if he hits the fairway."
Less than two years ago, Stenson had fallen to 230th in the Official World Golf Rankings, but he worked hard to improve and get back to the world-class level that he showed in winning the TOUR's signature event, THE PLAYERS Championship, in 2009.
"Henrik had a little blip on his screen there for a while, much like everybody," Stricker said. "It's nice to see that he's put in the work and the energy and the time to get it back and to reach really the ultimate thing in our sport, to win the FedExCup."
Said Stenson: "This is obviously the highest of everything, to win the FedExCup and win the TOUR Championship and win the Deutsche Bank two weeks ago. It's been unbelievable. Yeah, it's kind of sinking in more and more. To come back, that's what pays off, the hard work."
So impressed was Stricker that he thinks the PGA TOUR Player of the Year voting will be between Stenson and Tiger Woods, who won five times on TOUR this year. The voting begins Sunday night, with the winner determined at the end of the week.
"I would think about Henrik. I would think it would be up between him and Tiger probably," Stricker said. "Henrik's had an amazing year."
Woods closed with a 67 but was never a factor after failing to make even one birdie in the first round for just the seventh time as a pro. He finished even par and was tied for 22nd. He had come into the week ranked No. 1 in points, one spot ahead of Stenson, but was never a factor in his bid to win a third FedExCup title.
Webb Simpson shot the tournament's low round of 63 on Sunday to take solo fourth.
Henrik Stenson closed out the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with a 2-under 68 to win both the tournament and the FedExCup. Want to congratulate Stenson on his big wins? Leave a message in our comments section below and we'll get it to him.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Jordan Spieth began his season without status on any tour.
He ended it with another impressive performance.
Spieth, who was already the youngest player to have reached the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at 20 years old, shot a final-round 64 Sunday to tie for second in the season finale at East Lake.
"It was another round where I felt the same pressure I felt at the John Deere, at the Wyndham," Spieth said.
You wouldn't know it by the way he played.
Trailing by seven at the start of the day, Spieth charged into contention with four straight birdies late deep in his back nine, briefly getting to withing one of the lead before a bogey on the 71st hole ended his chances for a historic win.
Still, Spieth was impressive, making eight birdies and just two bogeys in the final round.
It was the third time in Spieth's last five starts that he has shot 65 or lower in the final round, and only Webb Simpson's 63 was better in Sunday's final round.
"It's been a dream
come true," Spieth said of his season.
He ends his rookie year season with nine top 10s, including a win. He also finished in the top 20 of all four FedExCup Playoffs events.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- By his own measure, Tiger Woods was "very satisfied" with his season.
And why wouldn't he be?
Woods won five times and could be named Player of the Year later this week.
"I wish I would have been a little more consistent in some of the events, but overall, at the end of the day, you know, to add n some of the events, but overall, at the end of the day, you know, to add to the win total for the year, it's always a good thing," he said.
Woods wasn't able to add to it here, though. He shot a 3-under 67 Sunday to end his week at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola even par and well down the leaderboard.
He was never in contention at East Lake after failing to break par the first two rounds, citing exhaustion as he explained his late-round collapse Friday when he played his last five holes in 6 over after playing his first 13 in 5 under.
"There are days where I just don't have it," said Woods, who came into the week No. 1 in the FedExCup standings. "Game doesn't feel right. Body doesn't feel right. Things just don't work. But I still grind it out and post some numbers."
He did that over the weekend, including on Sunday when he made five birdies and two bogeys.
But for the week, he finished near last in fairways hit (25 of 56, including just seven on Sunday) and greens in regulation (47 of 72, including 12 on Sunday).
Woods also wasn't great with the putter, taking 118 putts in all, including 28 in the final round.
"That's something I'm very proud of is that there were days where I just didn't quite have it, but I grinded it out and pieced together a round which kept me in tournaments," Woods said. "Over the course of my career, I've won many a tournaments just because of that."
This just wasn't one of them.
Prior to the final round of the 2013 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Mark Carnevale from PGA TOUR Radio on PGATOUR.COM and SiriusXM speaks with Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker.