By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Thanks to his spot atop the FedExCup rankings, Henrik Stenson will be grouped in the first two rounds of the BMW Championship with the players who are second and third on that list.
That would be Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.
"I've got two of the best players in the world the first two rounds, so if there ever is a motivational problem, that wouldn't be playing with Adam and Tiger," Stenson said. "You know, it's going to be full on and full focus and so on. I'm excited about that."
Stenson hasn't played a round at a PGA TOUR event with Scott since the final round of the 2010 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
His history with Woods is more recent. He was paired with Woods in the final twosome of the final round last month at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He matched Woods' even-par 70 that day and finished tied for second -- seven shots behind Woods.
But now it's Stenson who has all the momentum, as he comes off his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship that elevated him to the top of the points list. In his last five starts, he's finished third or better four times.
"I'm going to approach this week as I've done with the other ones," Stenson said. "It's a brand new week, and I'm going to keep on working away on the things that's worked out well for me in the last couple of months, and we'll see where it takes us."
FedExCup leader Henrik Stenson, fresh off a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, answered fan questions in a Google+ Hangout from the BMW Championship.
To see our past Hangouts with PGA TOUR players, fans and media, click here (http://pgat.us/Hangouts).
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
Henrik Stenson wasn’t about to let this one slip away. So close to victory in four of his previous five starts — including a second-place finish at The Open Championship and a third at the PGA — Stenson held a precarious two-shot lead over Steve Stricker in the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday when his approach shot on the 71st hole found the back greenside bunker. With Stricker up ahead putting for eagle, it was not the ideal time for Stenson to hit into his first bunker of the week.
A below-average bunker player by PGA TOUR standards (Stenson ranks 146th on TOUR in sand save percentage at 45 percent), Stenson needed to get the ball up and down from 31 feet to maintain his lead over Stricker, who birdied the 72nd hole. Stenson did one better, holing out for birdie and delivering the knockout blow that had been eluding him for months. The ball came out high and straight, bounced once, and then checked up to the perfect speed, slowly rolling into the cup to make the Super Swede a perfect 1 for 1 (100 percent) on bunker shots for the week.
What was interesting about this particular bunker shot was just how Stenson set up to it and created the necessary spin to trickle the ball into the cup. Most golfers, when faced with a relative short, delicate bunker shot, set the clubface wide open and adjust their stance so that their body is pointing well left of the target. The general rule of thumb is that the more you open the face, the more you have to open your stance so that the clubface is looking more down the target line. This is very important because the ball is going to start where the clubface is looking at impact. If you were to open the face, say, 45 degrees, and you set up square, then the face would be pointing well right of the target. If the face is looking 45 degrees to the right, then you have to open your stance line approximately 45 degrees to the left until the face comes back around and looks relatively at the target.
The problem with aiming so far left and opening the clubface is that it significantly reduces the size of the hitting surface on the clubface. Because the swing direction is so far to the left, or out to in, it exposes less of the face surface to the sand; therefore, there’s not enough force being applied to the sand at impact to project both the sand and the ball out of the bunker. What makes this open stance, open face setup even more problematic for the average golfer is that they already have a tendency to swing from out to in from a square setup. Open the stance and it only exacerbates this swing path error.
On Stenson’s knockout blow, his stance is relatively square and his clubface just slightly open. Where he generates the extra loft and spin is from his shaft angle, which is neutral (i.e., straight up and down) to slightly back (i.e., leaning away from the target). This forces the left wrist to become slightly cupped, moving the low point of the swing just past the ball towards the target, not opposite the left shoulder as it is on most shots. If the hands were leading and the back of the left wrist were flat, then the low point would be at his shoulder, but in a bunker shot the low point needs to be farther back. You don’t want the clubhead to enter the sand and keep moving down and down, because then it digs too much and you lose loft and spin. You want the clubhead to enter the sand and swing up sooner, like it’s cutting the legs out from underneath the ball. This creates a shallower divot and thumping sound, which in turn creates more spin.
The other reason why Stenson is able to create so much spin is because of the position of his sternum, which remains over the ball from address through impact. Since the clubhead has a tendency to strike the sand where the sternum is, it makes contact very close to the ball, minimizing the amount of sand trapped between the ball and clubface and thus increasing spin. As the clubhead enters the sand Stenson allows it to pass his hands much sooner than he would for a full wedge swing from the grass, and then he aggressively turns his torso through the shot, finishing with his hands very low.
One final thing worth mentioning is how Stenson maintains the flex in his left knee throughout the shot. The left knee never straightens, or dips. This is something that so many good bunker players do, and is critical if you want to maintain the correct depth to your divots and not hit your shots too heavy or thin.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com.
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Next week’s BMW Championship will be many players’ first trip to Conway Farms, the suburban Chicago layout that will host the third event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Conway Farms has hosted a handful of national amateur events, but this will be its first PGA TOUR event.
Preparing for a new course adds a new challenge for the BMW’s elite field. The top 70 players in the FedExCup qualified for the event. The FedExCup's top 30 after the BMW will qualify for the following week’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
“What works in their favor, one, is there's 70 players left in the field, so they will get out there and practice rounds won't be too tedious,” Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said Wednesday in a teleconference. “I'm looking forward as an analyst just to see this golf course. I've toured it via the Internet and looked at it. It looks marvelous, great setting. I think it's really exciting, risk-reward, a lot of cool shots coming down the stretch, and I'm sure the players have thought about it, as well.”
Conway Farms will be a home game for Luke Donald. His short-game coach, Pat Goss, tweeted Wednesday, “Day 2 of my Conway Farms short game escapades - today with the best in the world at it @LukeDonald. #funtowatch.” Goss worked with Gary Woodland the previous day.
Woodland is 14th in the FedExCup standings and seems likely to safely advance to the TOUR Championship. He was 116th in the FedExCup after the RBC Canadian Open in July, but has vaulted more than 100 points in the standings after winning the Reno-Tahoe Open and finishing T-2 at The Barclays, the first FedExCup Playoffs event. Goss and Woodland worked exclusively on the short game from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Goss tweeted.
Donald has work to do at his home course if he is to make the TOUR Championship for the fifth consecutive year. He is 54th in the FedExCup. Donald recently started working with instructor Chuck Cook, who’s instructed PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner for several years.
“I just think that Luke maybe is just having a little bit of ‑‑ just sort of a downtime,” Miller said on the teleconference. “It happens to everybody. It happened to Nicklaus, of course to Woods a couple of times and it's happened to all the great players, Mickelson, you name it. They have had times where maybe they didn't know if they wanted to unpack the suitcase and pack it that many times a year; a little bit of that, you never know.
"He'll probably come back. He has got a lot of talent. But his iron game is off, and that was always the hallmark and as a collegian and coming on TOUR, that's what he was known for was great iron play. I think his wedges are all right, but the rest of the irons are not so good.”
While Donald, a former World No. 1, seeks to regain past form, several players have had breakout performances in the FedExCup Playoffs, namely Henrik Stenson and Graham DeLaet. Stenson leads the FedExCup after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, his first TOUR title since the 2009 PLAYERS Championship. He’s risen to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking after falling outside the top 200 during a slump a couple years ago. Stenson will qualify for the TOUR Championship for the first time; this is his first time advancing to the BMW Championship since 2007.
“Obviously Stenson is really on a roll, and it's not just a one‑ or two‑week roll,” Miller said. “He's doing everything really well. He has the power and he has great irons. Short game has really improved, the work he's put in, and the putter is working really well.”
You know, it's fast, but he's so powerful. The guy is really put together, big guy, tall and strong, and really makes great contact and crushes the ball, really compress the ball and makes a loud noise when he hits it.
“He could possibly get to the next level next year. He might end up being a guy that will win a major or maybe a couple majors the next two years. He says he wants to put even more work into his game. Saw his interview this morning, and you know, he understands that to take it to the next level, he has to even work even harder. So I like him.”
DeLaet also is on pace for his first TOUR Championship appearance. He's fifth in the FedExCup standings after a T-2 finish at The Barclays and third-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top five in the FedExCup standings after the BMW can clinch the FedExCup with a win at the TOUR Championship, regardless of how the players ahead of him fare in the final Playoffs event.
“I'm just absolutely flabbergasted watching that guy hit golf balls,” Chamblee said. “He's never had a golf lesson. His father showed him how to hold a golf club and then he just went about it himself. He leads the TOUR in total driving and he leads the TOUR in ball‑striking. I think it's a fabulous contrast, in my opinion, to the over‑coaching that's going on on the PGA TOUR.”
Stenson leads the FedExCup, followed by Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and DeLaet. There’s still a lot of work left to be done to win the FedExCup, though. Historic East Lake Golf Club awaits.
"You start to look at guys who on the eve of THE TOUR Championship, first of all who, have won a major championship, because that golf course, Donald Ross, re‑designed obviously by a number of people, but you have to look at quality ball‑strikers; the golf course, it's hard to hit a lot of those greens."
NORTON, Mass. -- Henrik Stenson won for the third time in his career on the PGA TOUR, capturing the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.
He shot a final-round 66 to finish the week 22 under, tying the tournament scoring record at TPC Boston.
Steve Stricker finished second, two strokes back.
The victory also moves Stenson to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings as he takes over the top spot from Tiger Woods.
In a week where birdies came in abundance due to heavy rains that soaked TPC Boston, including in the final round, Stenson made hs share of them with 25, including six in the final round.
The win is Stenson's first on TOUR since his 2009 PLAYERS Championship victory.
No one has been hotter than Stenson over the last month, however.
He finished second at The Open Championship and followed with another runner-up two weeks later at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
A week later, Stenson finished third at the PGA Championship.
At TPC Boston, Stenson led the field in greens in regulation and over the final two rounds had just two bogeys.
He took comman in the final round with four birdies in a five-hole stretch late in the front nine before adding another on the par-3 11th.
Stricker cut Stenson's lead to just 2 with a birdie on the 17th but Stenson responded by holing out for birdie on the same hole from the only bunker he hit into all week.
Henrik Stenson has won the Deutsche Bank Championship for his third PGA TOUR victory and his first since the 2009 PLAYERS. With his win, Stenson earns 2,500 FedExCup points and moves ahead of Tiger Woods for the top spot in the latest standings.
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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- In less than two years, Henrik Stenson has worked his way back into the top 10 in the world after a slump that saw the 2009 PLAYERS champ bottom out at No. 230.
The Swede has finished third or better four times this season, including second at The Open Championship and third at the PGA Championship. And as well as he's played, Stenson feels like he still has "another gear to give" -- which could spell trouble for the 76 players who survived the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Stenson will start the third round of the second event in the FedExCup Playoffs at 12 under, one stroke off the lead held by Sergio Garcia. He tied the low round of the tournament on Saturday with a 63 that included a string of four straight birdies on the front and no bogeys overall.
Stenson, who is making his third appearance in the Playoffs, would love to finally get that extra 15 or 20 percent out of his game this week at TPC Boston as he seeks to win for the third time on the PGA TOUR and 12th time worldwide. He knows the leaderboard is crowded with 19 players within five strokes of the lead, but he likes the way his game is trending.
"So that's very exciting for the work ahead and hopefully come back next year and be able to have that extra gear, and a little bit more confidence, as well," he said. "Even if I played really, really well I'm sure in the past that I've been more confident with myself and with my game at times. ...
"I guess that's the nature of this game, as well. There's always a lot of room for improvement. You're never really finished with anything. So just keep on working away."
Through 36 holes on a course he hasn't played since 2007, Stenson worked his way to first in greens in regulation (32 of 36) and 10th in fairways (21 of 28). After missing three birdie putts inside 10 feet on Friday, Stenson didn't leave anything out there in the second round with nine one-putts in the 27 total he used.
"I made 8 birdies and 10 pars, which is pretty spotless, I guess," Stenson said. "And again, hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of good iron shots into the greens, giving myself chances. And made a few more good putts today compared to yesterday. I guess that was the big difference. Solid round of golf, and up in contention once again going into the weekend, which is nice. So we'll just keep on plodding away."
Stenson, who says he's running on the "spare battery" right now and fighting a cold, historically has been known as a player who is at his best on tough golf courses where par is a good score. He'll need to make birdies over the next two rounds at TPC Boston but the Swede has responded well so far on a course he says has "tricky" holes which need the solid ball-striking he's been able to produce.
"I've said it so many times over these last two months, it's a three and a half day marathon, to be on the back nine on the final round," Stenson said. "And this week is no different. That's what we're trying to do."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- It's been two months since Henrik Stenson has finished outside the top 3 in a PGA TOUR event.
Thursday he gave no indication of slowing down anytime soon.
Stenson made nine birdies on his way to a 6-under 65 that has him one shot off the lead at The Barclays.
The Swede didn't arrive in New York from Europe until Monday night and saw the course just once prior to his opening round. There were also nearly six hours of weather delays to deal with, too.
It didn't matter.
After making the turn in 2 under, Stenson heated up on Liberty National's front side, making five birdies in a seven-hole stretch.
Stenson, who is playing in his first FedExCup Playoffs and came into the week ninth in the standings, missed just two fairways and hit 13 greens in regulation in what was a wet opening round with heavy rain twice dousing the course.
"You can throw whatever clubs you're throwing in there are just stopping," Stenson said. "It doesn't necessarily make it that much easier when it gets soft, because you've got to watch the spin on every shot and not everywhere you can throw it past and then bring it back. I think that's pretty similar to what we had at Oak Hill."
That should bode well for Stenson. He finished second there.