September 20 2013
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.