By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
ATLANTA -- Every champion has a moment of truth. That one moment when he realizes the tournament could slip away. For Henrik Stenson, that moment came on the 14th hole.
The Swede looked to be on cruise control until both Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker made a run to within a couple shots.
While those two were charging, Stenson drove into the rough and caught a flier from 153 yards away. An aggressive line to the green turned into too much club. A double bogey loomed but Stenson turned six into five with a chip and two putts.
That was his only bogey of the final round and that’s what Stenson did the entire week. He was able to save strokes and avoid disaster. Stenson did not have a single double this week and while he did have seven bogeys, four of them came during Saturday’s rainstorm.
Every metric indicates Stenson was the best player at East Lake Golf Club. He was T3 in hitting fairways at 35-for-56, T1 hitting greens (56 of 72) and third in strokes gained-putting at 2.047.
Assist: Steve Stricker stood in the 15th fairway knowing he needed to make something happen. He was 245 yards away at the par-5, but with the hole cut 29 paces onto the green and just four yards from the left side, it was going to be hard to get a ball close. Stricker’s caddie, Jimmy Johnson, reminded Steve he could play the approach out to the right hand side and use the contours of the green to feed the ball to the cup. That’s exactly the way Stricker played the shot to within 24 feet and then made the eagle putt. Stricker and Johnson are one of the better player-caddie teams on the PGA TOUR.
Comfortable: Jordan Spieth made the statement as just a casual comment but its ramifications could affect everyone on the PGA TOUR. Spieth said on Friday that he finally felt comfortable while putting. The 20-year-old Texan backed up that statement with results. He finished first this week in strokes gained-putting, gaining 6.440 strokes on the rest of the field. Spieth has not been great on the greens this year but everyone on the PGA TOUR should be wary if he has truly found a key to his putting.
Dufnering: Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner are best of friends and are not above giving each other the “needle” on occasion. At the 7th hole, Bradley holed-out for eagle from 170 yards. Keegan immediately sat down in the fairway and gave his best “Dufnering” imitation. Jason got back at his friend on the green, when he walked up to the cup, removed Keegan’s ball and threw it away into the gallery.
Best line: Dustin Johnson proved prophetic on Friday when he was asked what he would need to shoot on the weekend to catch Henrik Stenson. Johnson replied, “I probably need to shoot Henrik to have a chance.”
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.