By PGATOUR.COM staff
ATLANTA -- Henrik Stenson's phenomenal play at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola is having an impact on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, as well.
Johan Carlsson, the 27-year-old Swede who leads the Challenge Tour's Kazakhstan Open, says he has been inspired by his countryman's performance. The San Diego State grad fired a 67 at Nurtau Golf Club on Saturday to open a two-stroke advantage.
Stenson came to East Lake ranked second in the FedExCup and currently leads the TOUR Championship by an impressive seven strokes through four holes in the third round. Stenson, who also leads the European Tour's Race to Dubai, won the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago and has finished third or better in four of his last six starts.
“I have thought at about him, too, to be honest,” Carlsson said. “If he can do it we can all do it. I met him about a year ago and he’s just a normal guy. We’re all just normal guys that just manage to keep our mind in a good state on the golf course.
“It’s amazing what he is doing at the moment, and inspiring. He’s Swedish and he’s not a wonder-child, like Tiger Woods was. Hard work and working on the right things, no matter where you are in your career, can change everything and you can just start playing well.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Friday's armchair rules official need not have worried.
Henrik Stenson knew better than to play with that 4-wood. Not after the face had caved in as he was hitting it on the practice range early Friday afternoon.
"I was warming up, and my 4-wood started to sound a little funny on the range there," explained Stenson, who was seen on TV showing the club to Steve Stricker. "I looked at the face on the two shots, and there was a funny sound, and the face had caved in on the top groove."
So Stenson banished the club to his locker. And as it turned out, the Swede found that 13 clubs were more than enough to fashion a sterling 66 that left him with a four-stroke lead at the midway point of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
When he went into the scoring trailer after his round, though, Stenson was questioned by a member of the PGA TOUR rules staff after another viewer call-in. Had he left the offending club in the bag, it would have been a two-stroke penalty. Had he hit the 4-wood in competition, Stenson would have been disqualified.
"You asked me how well I knew the rules the other day," Stenson said in his post-round interview. "I gave myself 7 out of 10, didn't I? I guess this was in the other 30 percent, then.
"I wouldn't have said I was 100 percent sure that I would have gotten a two-shot penalty if I would have carried the club, just had it in my bag and not used it. But that was obviously the case. Good thing that we put it in the locker before we teed off."
Stenson said he hit the 4-wood twice on the back nine Thursday and missed the fairway each time. The 3-woods he hit on those two holes Friday were much more obedient "So it might have been a good thing that it wasn't in the bag.
"So I mean, it worked out fine without it, but the one occasion I would have used it was 9 for sure on my second shot, but I managed to make (a birdie) 4 anyway," Stenson said. "So no harm done."
Stenson said he was going to see if he could find a replacement head for the third round. His caddie, Gareth Lord, is staying with a friend who runs a golf course about 30 miles from Atlanta that has a repair facility.
"But it's always a little bit iffy if I get another one or even the same one, that doesn't always feel the same, and to take that straight out into competition, sometimes it's better to go with a known than the unknown," Stenson said. "We'll see how that works out."
At least Stenson, who taken out his frustration out on his driver after hitting his tee shot into the water on the 72nd hole at the BMW Championship on Monday, kept his sense of humor.
"They're not going to believe me anyway after last week that ... that the 4-wood broke during natural causes," Stenson said with a wry grin.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
ATLANTA -- Every player who has ever won a championship knows he received a good break at some juncture of the tournament. Maybe it was a bounce off a tree, or a birdie putt that just held its line and toppled into the cup.
Henrik Stenson may have received his good break in Friday’s second round.
He had birdied three of the first four holes as he stood on the sixth tee. The par 3 was playing over water at 197 yards. Stenson’s tee ball leaked to the right, hit off the bank and somehow stayed dry. It defied the laws of physics by not bouncing into the water.
Stenson chipped to within 12 feet, made the putt and escaped with par.
There are still 36 holes remaining, but Stenson has already received the kind of good fortune that sometimes leads to a championship.
Momentum: Everything seemed to be working in Tiger Woods’ favor in the second round. He was striking the ball well and making putts. Woods was 5 under for the day on the 14th hole when he tried to hit a shot from out of the pine straw. The ball did not get out of the rough. Woods followed that shot with a chip into the greenside bunker and finally carded a double bogey. In that five-minute stretch, you could feel every ounce of momentum leave Woods. The remainder of the round was ugly. He bogeyed the 16th and tripled the 17th after hitting into the water hazard. Did he get greedy with his second shot at the 14th or did he simply fail to execute a difficult shot? You can debate the answer, but Woods paid a terrible price.
Adjustment: Phil Mickelson made a tiny adjustment in his setup. A lesson with Butch Harmon clicked and Mickelson says, for the first time since the Open Championship, he feels confident in his game. Mickelson says he was able to forget about any technical adjustment and just feel his swing. He hit 14 greens but his greatest improvement came on the greens. Mickelson had 34 putts in the opening round and took 29 strokes on the green in the second round. He made 101 feet of putts on Friday compared with just 43 feet on Thursday. Mickelson seemed very enthusiastic about his game headed into the weekend.
Comfortable: For everything Jordan Spieth has accomplished this year, he has not putted well on a consistent basis. The Texan is ranked 78th in strokes gained-putting this year. That’s why his statement following a second round 67 was so important. "For the first time this year I feel comfortable over the putter,” Spieth said. He had 27 strokes in the second round and is ranked second in strokes gained-putting this week.
Numbers: Every metric seems to work in Henrik Stenson’s favor through the first two rounds. He leads the tournament in hitting fairways and greens. He is second in putts per green and fourth in strokes gained-putting. Stenson is sixth in proximity to the cup and has saved par on three of five occasions when missing a green. It is not a fluke that Stenson leads the tournament. He has absolutely played the best golf.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Henrik Stenson leads the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola after the first round at East Lake. Consequently, he's also in position to win the FedExCup.
At No. 2 in the FedExCup standings coming into the week, the formula for Stenson is simple: Win the tournament and he wins the FedExCup. Here's a look at who did what on Thursday in terms of the FedExCup.
TOP FIVE: Stenson and Adam Scott came into the week second and third, respectively, in points, meaning that if either won here, they would also win the FedExCup. After a 65 Thursday that featured six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and a closing 29, Scott remains right on Stenson's heels. No. 1 Tiger Woods, on the other hand, is near the bottom of the leaderboard after a 3-over 73 that didn't feature a single birdie. It was the first time Woods went an entire round without a birdie since the opening round of the 2010 U.S. Open. He's now projected to fall to third in the FedExCup standings. Meanwhile, Zach Johnson, who won last week and came in fourth in points, shot 69 and is projected to fall to fifth. The current No. 5, Matt Kuchar, is projected to fall to sixth after a 69.
BIGGEST MOVERS: Billy Horschel entered the week 22nd in the FedExCup standings, but after a 66 is within two of the lead and now projected to move up to 10th. Even if he were to win, though, he needs a lot of help to win the FedExCup. Roberto Castro is a stroke behind Horschel and projected to move from 24th to 13th. Like Horschel, he needs a ton of help even if he wins the tournament.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- The ice and anti-inflammatories had done the trick, and the pain in Henrik Stenson's ailing left wrist had all but disappeared on Thursday during the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
The frustration that Stenson had taken out on his locker before leaving Conway Farms on Monday after that 74 was gone, too. Ditto for the anger that prompted him to break his driver after hitting it into the water at the 18th hole a few minutes earlier.
"I really knew I had to be in a good frame of mind coming out there if I wanted to play good golf this week," Stenson said. "As some of you noticed, I wasn't that on Monday when I finished up in Chicago. So it was a good turnaround mentally.
"I stayed very level-headed, kept the head on, on both myself and drivers, and played a great round of golf."
Indeed, it was. Stenson, who was playing a full 18 holes at East Lake for the first time ever on Thursday, birdied the final one to finish off a 64 that gave him a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott and a two-stroke edge on Billy Horschel and Steve Stricker.
The Swede went out in a sizzling 30 that included a string of four straight birdies that started on the fourth hole. His birdie putts during that stretch came from 8 feet, 8 inches, 4 feet, 23 inches and 10 feet.
"(The) first seven holes is probably as good a proximity to the hole as I've ever had on seven iron shots and made five birdies out of that," Stenson said. "So that was really nice."
Prior to Thursday, Stenson, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago, had only walked the back nine at East Lake after restricting his practice the previous day to preserve his left wrist. Of course, he's had success before on new courses where he hadn't played a practice round.
"I remember one tournament back in '04 on the European Tour and I had a really bad neck, and I just walked the course with a putter and a long wedge, and I went out and won the tournament by four shots," Stenson said. "So obviously, it's not a must."
As pleased as he was with his play tee to green -- Stenson was tied for first in strokes-gained putting, tied for second in greens in regulation and tied for sixth in fairways hit -- the Swede was equally happy with the attitude adjustment he made over the last 72 hours.
"I've always been a bit of a hot head, and it kind of builds up, and eventually it goes over the limit," Stenson explained. "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.
"I was looking forward to that Monday back home and lying on the couch. The kids in school and me just doing nothing, and I ended up playing golf again on that Monday. ... I was just tired, and I pushed myself over the edge there.
"That's not the best place to be and not the best frame of mind to play good golf. I'm really delighted with the change I made to today."
ATLANTA -- Despite tendonitis in his left wrist, Henrik Stenson made seven birdies and just one bogey en route to a 64 and a one-shot lead Thursday at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Adam Scott is alone in second, while Billy Horschel and Steve Stricker are another stroke back at 4 under.
Playing at East Lake for the first time, Stenson was near-flawless on his opening nine, making four straight birdies at one point before going out in 30.
The Swede missed just three greens in regulation and took only 27 putts, tied for the fewest in the 30-man field.
Meanwhile, it was a tale of two nines for Scott.
He struggled on East Lake's front side, making the turn in 1 over before a run of six birdies over his first seven holes on the back to close in 29.
Either player would win the FedExCup with a win here this week.
So would Tiger Woods, but he has a long way to go after a 73 that left him in second-to-last place. Only Jason Dufner played worse with a 74.
Woods struggled mightily with his putter, taking 34 putts and was the only player in the field without a birdie on his scorecard. It marked just the seventh time in Woods' career that has happened and the first since the opening round of the 2010 U.S. Open.
As a result, Woods, who teed off in Thursday's final pairing, will be first off with Dufner on Friday as players will be re-paired after each round in the season finale.
ATLANTA -- Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson are taking divergent paths so far during the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Stenson, who ranks second to Woods in the FedExCup standings, has birdied five of his first seven holes, including the last four consecutively. He's 5 under and owns a one-shot lead over Billy Horschel.
Stenson's birdies have come from 8 feet, 8 inches, 4 feet, 23 inches and 10 feet.
Woods, on the other hand, is 1 over after finding the greenside bunker at the fifth hole and missing a 14-footer to save par. His best birdie chance so far came at the first hole when he missed a 6-footer.
Both Stenson and Horschel, who has finished 14 holes, are playing in the TOUR Championship for the first time. Roberto Castro, who is alone in third at 3 under through 15 hole, also is making his TOUR Championship debut -- at a course he played frequently while a student at Georgia Tech.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Henrik Stenson thought he'd just slept awkwardly on his left wrist when he woke up in a fair amount of pain on Saturday morning.
The diagnosis was tendinitis, and it's gotten worse, not better, over the last four days. The wrist even hurt when Stenson was brushing his teeth on Wednesday.
"It's painful but I'll be able to play through it," the Swede said.
After all, there's a lot to be gained this week as Stenson makes his debut at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Stenson, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago, enters the finale to the FedExCup Playoffs ranked second in the standings.
So that means he can win the $10 million bonus if he wins the TOUR Championship. In fact, he can finish as low as a two-way tie for sixth and still mathematically have a shot at the game's biggest prize.
The possibilities have definitely gotten Stenson's attention.
"If you want to do well in the overall FedExCup, you've got to play well here," Stenson said. "... And hopefully, when we sum it all up at the end of the week, we're in there with a chance. That's all I can ask.
"I'm in a good spot, but I still need a lot of good things to happen to be able to pull off the win."
Complicating things for Stenson was the Monday finish at the BMW Championship in Chicago. He didn't his first look at East Lake until Tuesday afternoon, when he played the front nine. He walked the back on Wednesday, trying to preserve his wrist.
"It hasn't really been affecting my shots that much, but it's gradually getting more and more painful kind of overnight before I get going in the morning," Stenson said. "So I'll try to rest it a little bit today and probably come out earlier tomorrow and do a bit more."
From what he's seen of East Lake, which was designed by Donald Ross in 1913 and freshened up by Rees Jones 85 years later, Stenson thinks the course could be right down his alley. He didn't grow up on Bermudagrass and hasn't played it lately, though, so chipping could be problematic and hitting greens a key.
"So far this year, part of my success has been hitting a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and I think that's going to pay off if I can do that out here," Stenson said. "It's got some real long holes, some tough holes. The greens are really slick if you're coming down the hill. So it's key to keep the ball underneath the hole. So good approach play is going to pay off for sure."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Henrik Stenson, currently sitting atop the FedExCup points list, is tired. His high-finish stretch in recent weeks, culminating with his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, has left him fatigued. Even the off-week was negated by the demands on his time.
But after opening with a 1-over 72 in Thursday's first round of the BMw Championship, Stenson is still hoping to find his second wind for the rest of the week. He tees off today at 12:59 p.m. ET in the top group with No. 2 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Adam Scott.
"I'm just not that rested," Stenson said. "It's been a tiring couple of months and when you never really give yourself a chance to get the energy back, it seems kind of hard.
"But I'm going to try to keep my head in the right place. We still have a long ways to go. It's not over just because I didn't have the best of first days. I'll try to play well the next three days and work my way up the leaderboard."
Although Stenson seems likely to remain in the top five in FedExCup points after this week, there is no 100 percent guarantee. He could conceivably be pushed out of the top five if he finishes near the bottom of the leaderboard and others just behind him in points are near the top.
But if he can find some energy, that should be a moot point.
"No panic in the camp," Stenson said.