September 21 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
ATLANTA -- Saturday was about concentration, not just physical execution. It's so easy to lose focus during rainy weather, but Henrik Stenson wanted no part of any excuses.
His scorecard showed a trio of bogeys on the back nine, but it would be a mistake to consider those holes as serious flaws in Stenson’s game. In fact, those holes might have been his biggest accomplishments in the third round. They were at least as important as the five birdies he carded.
Each of those three bogeys could have been double or worse, but Stenson was able to minimize the damage. When grips get slick and fairways are soggy, bogeys are going to be made.
The beauty of Stenson’s round was his ability to maintain focus and mitigate disaster. He started the day with a four-shot lead, and left the course with the same four-shot advantage.
Caddies: Players lean so hard on their caddies in wet weather. It's their job to not just get yardage and map course strategy, and they have to keep the equipment dry. Watch as players exit the course on a rainy day -- they are dry. Now, look at the caddies as they leave the course. They are wet and mangy workers. Caddies sacrifice their own comfort to keep their players dry.
Splits: Stenson has been wonderful on the front nine and rather ordinary over the remainder of the course. He is 13 under on the front side, and 2 over on the back. Stenson's numbers on the second hole are easy to tally. He has birdied that par 3 in every round for a total of six strokes. (Watch him birdie the par-3 second on Saturday).
Fairways: Tiger Woods has hit 18 of 42 fairways this week, which ranks near last in the 30-man field. He had a right-hand miss working on the front nine in the third round, when he hit only a third of his fairways.
Players struggled out of the Bermuda rough. It only measures two inches long, but the grass gets between the ball and clubface, making it very difficult to control distance. Stenson missed half his fairways Saturday and struggled just to make bogeys on three of his final five holes.
Putting: Steve Stricker is resilient. He's had several chances to fold this week and yet remains in contention. He had a pair of three-putt bogeys early in the tournament, but he's rebounded. He started the back nine with a bogey and double-bogey on Friday and kept his concentration. Stricker was challenged again on Saturday with short missed putts on the 10th and 13th holes, and answered with birdies at both the 14th and 15th. He has made a birdie 33 percent of the time following bogey this week.
Lefty: Phil Mickelson gave fans an exciting moment at the second hole when his flop shot missed the green, but followed up the mistake with a chip-in par. That might have been the highlight of his day. Mickelson expected to charge on Saturday, but was stuck on neutral because of 30 putts. He said he was mad and wet leaving the scoring area. Only one thing would put him in a good mood: A victory by his alma mater Arizona State against Stanford on Saturday night.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.