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September 2 2013

10:12 PM

Notes from inside the ropes

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If this week's putting performance was any indication, more big things can be expected from Jason Dufner.

By: Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent

NORTON, Mass. -- When you give the best ballstriker on the PGA TOUR a perfect lie in every fairway; he is going to do some damage. Henrik Stenson entered this week leading the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation and in ballstriking and the Deutsche Bank Championship only enhanced those numbers.

He won by pounding the ball into 61 of 72 greens to lead the tournament. With preferred lies for the final two rounds because of wet weather, it only helped Stenson’s chances.

He has been a great ballstriker all year but what changed this week was his putting. He had putting rounds of 31-27-28-28 and ranked 29th in strokes gained putting. Stenson was fourth in strokes gained putting for the final round and 29th for the week.  

That is a huge improvement from his first 15 tournaments this year where he ranked 135th in putting.

When you combine ballstriking and putting you have Henrik Stenson as your champion.

Observations

Captain America: Steve Stricker entered this tournament with the intention of winning and clinching a slot on the United States Presidents Cup team. One out of two isn’t bad. His 20 under total came up two shy of victory but it did earn a berth on the U.S. squad at Muirfield Village. Stricker missed one fairway the entire day and was 14-for-18 hitting greens in regulation. The 18th hole has to be one of his favorites on the PGA TOUR. He was 5-under on that par 5. Stenson will play in the BMW Championship but could go hunting instead of entering the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta. That decision remains to be made.

Curious: Jason Dufner had some curious splits on the golf course. He played the par 5s in 1-over and the par 3s in 8-under. It was also an unusual week putting for the PGA Champion. Dufner ranks 163rd on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting but was third this week in that category. If Dufner has truly found a key to his putting and can combine that with his outstanding ballstriking, then the future is very promising.

Double trouble: Rory McIlroy made the cut on the number, teased us with a third round 64 and then a final round 72 for a T47 finish. He hit the ball much better than that finish would indicate. McIlroy made 23 birdies. That was fourth best in the tournament. So why the T47 finish? Rory combined solid play with eight bogeys and four double bogeys include a pair of 6’s in the final round. He continues to make what he calls “silly mistakes” that just destroy a round.

Tiger time: What a strange week for Tiger Woods. When he made a long birdie on the 18th hole in the second round, I thought he was poised for a huge weekend. Instead his game went in reverse. Tiger birdied his first hole of the final round with a tap in on the 10th and made just one more birdie the remainder of the day. It was not a good week on the greens for Woods as he finished 70th in strokes gained-putting. He lost a combined 4.649 strokes to the field this weekend with poor putting.

Perfect day: Jordan Spieth called it his best round ever. That’s quite a statement. The 20-year-old from Texas shot 62 including a birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle finish. Spieth said he had never been able to break 65 and once he got 6 under he stayed aggressive all the way through the final hole. The T4 finish has to get the attention of Fred Couples for Presidents Cup consideration. The day was so perfect for Spieth; he holed his eagle at the 18th just before play was suspended. He was warm, dry, happy and headed home while most of the field waited for the resumption of play.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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