By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Henrik Stenson probably wouldn't have been making his first appearance at the Children's Miracle Network Classic if he had made the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
When he didn't, Stenson needed a to add a couple of tournaments to fulfill his PGA TOUR membership obligation of 15 events. Now that he's here at Disney, the Swede figured he might as well make the best of it, and he has -- playing perhaps his best golf of the season to tie for the lead.
Stenson’s 64 -- his career low on the PGA TOUR -- on Friday enabled him to move to 12 under and into a tie with Justin Leonard and Bio Kim.
"I guess I would still rate the 66 at Sawgrass a little bit higher than this 64, but I'm very pleased with that score obviously," said the 2009 PLAYERS champion. "... I kept the ball in play and took my chances when I had them. Made a couple good up and downs. Hit a couple really good shots. Stayed out of trouble most of the day."
Stenson started strong with four birdies in his first nine holes, then played his back nine in 4 under, too, thanks to two birdies and a 35-footer for eagle at the 14th hole. His best shot, though? The 6-iron into the wind at the 16th hole that settled 3 feet from the pin.
"That was probably the highlight shot," the affable Swede said.
Stenson, whose best finish in 2011 is a tie for 28th in Puerto Rico, said he's been "battling" most of the season. He said his confidence is growing, though, and while you always hope for days like Friday, it was nice to have one finally happen.
"I just made some progress last couple of months, more than
anything in my approach I think to the game," Stenson said. "I'm
still not happy with the way I hit it. There are a couple of funny
shots here and there. But I'm working on the stuff that I really
can control, picking my targets and all of the stuff that you guys
think of as boring outside the scoring, you know.
"So that's what I've been trying to do, and it's obviously helped me."
Maybe having a home game helps, too. Stenson lives at Lake Nona, which is about 30 minutes from the sprawling Disney complex. He was headed home for some sushi and an evening with his wife and two kids.
"Very Swedish," someone suggested when he mentioned the Japanese staple.
"We had meatballs the other day," Stenson deadpanned.