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September 20 2013

5:45 PM

Friday observations: Stenson's break

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If he goes on to win at East Lake, Henrik Stenson may look back at a break in Round 2.

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.

Observations

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

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