By PGATOUR.COM staff
Henrik Stenson couldn't be too disappointed with his tie for seventh at the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday.
After all, he was playing with pain in the same cranky right wrist that plagued him during his stellar run to the FedExCup title. And his goal of becoming the first player to win both the FedExCup and the European Tour's Race to Dubai was still in tact.
Stenson, who managed four rounds in the 60s in Turkey, including a first-round 64, takes a lead of 213,467 points over Justin Rose into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai where the Race will be decided.
"You know, I definitely would have taken a 30th the first week when I couldn't move my hand at all on the Tuesday evening," Stenson said after the final round. "... But you've got to do a bit better. I'm still happy with the top-10 and thanks to a few of the other guys, yeah, I've still got the lead heading into the last week. Just give it some rest.
"My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked, but again, I've played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times, so hopefully I shouldn't have to be further behind than he need to due to that. So the most important thing is to get healthy long-term, and be able to play next week."
Stenson said his wrist actually felt better on Sunday than it did on Saturday. He planned to speak with his physical therapist before deciding how much to practice in Dubai.
"I hope if I maybe pull out of the pro-am and give it two days full rest, maybe I can do a light practice session on Wednesday and go," he said. "It's obviously going to affect my preparations but it's been like that for the last three weeks, so just do the best I can."
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
For the last three months or so Henrik Stenson has been a virtuoso. A slew of top-five finishes in big events and a victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship propelled him up the FedExCup rankings. He arrived in Atlanta with a legitimate chance to lift the coveted FedExCup trophy. That feat would take a special performance, though, and the affable Swede delivered and then some.
Paired with Tiger Woods (ranked No. 1 at the time in the FedExCup standings) in the first round, Stenson ran off a string of early birdies that moved him into contention and eventually the lead, which he would never relinquish. His play was nothing short of superhuman and at one stage he built up an 8-stroke lead in the third round.
His ballstriking was equally notable. Stenson hit 78-percent of greens in regulation – good for first in the field. Further evidence of his precision iron play was the fact that he led the field in par-3 scoring. Stenson, however, was not only precise on approach, he was long and straight off the tee, ranking T3 in driving accuracy.
It all added up to a 3-shot victory, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola title and the FedExCup trophy. Incredible stuff from an incredible golfer – a golfer from whom we can learn a lot.
A champion’s mindset: Stenson has twice come back from huge slumps in his game. His most recent return to the upper echelons of the game has seen him come back from a world ranking of 230th to fourth. This indicates various character traits that are inherent to champions: incredible resilience, a hardy resolve, a fantastic work ethic and a healthy understanding of perspective. The good news for all of us is that each of these traits can be developed. Just as you would work on your swing so you should work on renewing and improving your attitude and mindset every day. This is as important as developing the physical elements of your game. Consider Walter Hagen’s sage advice: "You don’t have the game you played last year or last week. You only have today’s game. It may be far from your best, but it’s all you have got. Harden your heart and make the most of it."
The power 3-metal: Stenson has always been a powerhouse off the tee (thanks in large part to a strong physique and a sound golf swing) but his fairway-metal approach to putting the ball in play off the tee (he was T3 in driving accuracy at East Lake) is something that every golfer can employ. Stenson sometimes hits this 3-metal tee shot off the deck, and I would not necessarily recommend this unless you are really comfortable and confident. Do realize, though, that this ball position promotes a really shallow and accurate arc which aids in accuracy. I would recommend teeing the ball quite low, and moving it back in the stance (slightly forward of center). From there, widen your stance slightly to promote stability. As you swing back and through, strive to pivot around a stable and tight spine angle. Finally, width of the swing arc is important, so sweep the club away from the ball in a low and smooth fashion. Retain that wide arc by not folding the arms too much in the backswing. Then as you swing through make that swing arc as wide as possible and follow that clubhead through to balanced finish.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
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 Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
ATLANTA -- Every champion has a moment of truth. That one moment when he realizes the tournament could slip away. For Henrik Stenson, that moment came on the 14th hole.
The Swede looked to be on cruise control until both Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker made a run to within a couple shots.
While those two were charging, Stenson drove into the rough and caught a flier from 153 yards away. An aggressive line to the green turned into too much club. A double bogey loomed but Stenson turned six into five with a chip and two putts.
That was his only bogey of the final round and that’s what Stenson did the entire week. He was able to save strokes and avoid disaster. Stenson did not have a single double this week and while he did have seven bogeys, four of them came during Saturday’s rainstorm.
Every metric indicates Stenson was the best player at East Lake Golf Club. He was T3 in hitting fairways at 35-for-56, T1 hitting greens (56 of 72) and third in strokes gained-putting at 2.047.
Assist: Steve Stricker stood in the 15th fairway knowing he needed to make something happen. He was 245 yards away at the par-5, but with the hole cut 29 paces onto the green and just four yards from the left side, it was going to be hard to get a ball close. Stricker’s caddie, Jimmy Johnson, reminded Steve he could play the approach out to the right hand side and use the contours of the green to feed the ball to the cup. That’s exactly the way Stricker played the shot to within 24 feet and then made the eagle putt. Stricker and Johnson are one of the better player-caddie teams on the PGA TOUR.
Comfortable: Jordan Spieth made the statement as just a casual comment but its ramifications could affect everyone on the PGA TOUR. Spieth said on Friday that he finally felt comfortable while putting. The 20-year-old Texan backed up that statement with results. He finished first this week in strokes gained-putting, gaining 6.440 strokes on the rest of the field. Spieth has not been great on the greens this year but everyone on the PGA TOUR should be wary if he has truly found a key to his putting.
Dufnering: Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner are best of friends and are not above giving each other the “needle” on occasion. At the 7th hole, Bradley holed-out for eagle from 170 yards. Keegan immediately sat down in the fairway and gave his best “Dufnering” imitation. Jason got back at his friend on the green, when he walked up to the cup, removed Keegan’s ball and threw it away into the gallery.
Best line: Dustin Johnson proved prophetic on Friday when he was asked what he would need to shoot on the weekend to catch Henrik Stenson. Johnson replied, “I probably need to shoot Henrik to have a chance.”
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
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 Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Keegan Bradley said it was the highlight of the year for him.
The "Dufnering" he did in the fairway after holing out from 170 yards for an eagle at the seventh hole, that is. Not the actual shot.
After all, Bradley was playing with his buddy Jason Dufner, the man who made his last name a viral vidoe verb sensation when he was captured, shoulders slumped, head bowed and legs stretch out on the floor of an elementary school classroom during a charity visit in Houston.
Everyone from TOUR players to celebrities to other athletes have since been captured "Dufnering" on various social media outlets. So what better time for Bradley to do it than to celebrate a great shot in the final round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?
"I've wanted to do it all year," Bradley said. "I thought, if I get the chance to do it, I'm going to do it. I didn't expect to make that shot. I told Duff, I don't care what happens. It was the highlight of the year for me."
The understated Dufner flashed a wry smile. "It's pretty sad his highlight of the year involves me," the reigning PGA champ said.
Of course, there was that side bet to consider. The two had a season-long wager on total hole-outs. Bradley led 9-8 entering the final round at East Lake, and Dufner was talking some smack as the day began.
"And then he holes out there on 7, and that was pretty much it," Dufner said. "It was hard for me to hole out today because I didn't miss any greens."
"He was walking up the first hole saying he was going to hole out and tie me, but he didn't," Bradley said. "He hit it too good to chip in. He was right. So that was disappointing. But it was a fun day."
So much fun that it had people thinking the two might make good partners at next week's Presidents Cup. Do Dufner and Bradley think they'd be a good match?
"Absolutely not," Dufner said.
"I would, he wouldn't," Bradley said. "He said I get too excited."
ATLANTA -- The final group has headed to the back nine at East Lake Golf Club with Henrik Stenson owning a four-stroke lead at 12 under in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Stenson wasn't able to take advantage of the first nine holes like he has in the first three rounds, though. He only made one birdie there Sunday -- as compared with 13 combined on that segment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Interestingly, Stenson hasn't prospered on the back nine at East Lake like he has on the front. He's 2 over on the back and bogeyed three of his last five holes on Saturday.
Jordan Spieth, who ranks sixth in final-round scoring average on TOUR, birdied three straight to close the front nine and has just made a 10-footer at the 13th hole to get to 8 under. Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson are tied at 7 under.
Stenson and Stricker can win the FedExCup with a victory in the TOUR Championship.
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.