Stenson heating up in time for FedExCup Playoffs
He picks up his sixth TOUR win at the Wyndham Championship
August 20, 2017
By Cameron Morfitt, PGATOUR.COM
Henrik Stenson's icy finish to win at Wyndham
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the Wyndham Championship, where Henrik Stenson shot a final-round 64 to reach a tournament-record 22 under and edge rookie Ollie Schniederjans (64) by one. Webb Simpson (67) finished third, four back, while a handful of players moved into the all-important top 125 in the FedExCup. For more coverage from Sedgefield Country Club, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
STENSON CLOSES DOOR
Technically, Henrik Stenson was tied with countrymen Jesper Parnevik and Carl Pettersson as the most decorated male Swedish player ever, all of them having won five times on the PGA TOUR. In reality, Stenson was first among equals. Those other guys hadn’t won The Open Championship, the TOUR Championship and the 2013 FedExCup.
In any case, Stenson put the matter to rest at Sedgefield, where he reeled off three straight birdies on holes 15-17 to edge a surging Ollie Schniederjans and collect his sixth PGA TOUR win. In the process, Stenson bolstered his chances for the upcoming FedExCup Playoffs, moving from 75th to 23rd going into the opening tournament, THE NORTHERN TRUST.
“It's certainly a good time to start firing,” he said. “We know the kind of damage you can do during the Playoffs when the points are up to four times the normal season, right, so if you get hot and keep on playing well, certainly a chance to challenge for the overall.
“… It's the first step, and delighted to get a win this year.”
Stenson’s previous three starts at the Wyndham had yielded two missed cuts and a WD with the flu, but he needed a start to get to 15 tournaments on TOUR. And this time he changed things up, taking his driver out of the bag and using only a 3- and a 4-wood off the tees, plus some long irons. The 41-year-old also stuck with a decision he made at the recent World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, using four wedges for the first time in his career.
After he’d salted away the victory with a tough two-putt par from behind the pin on 18, Stenson said it was the first of his 20 professional victories that came without a driver in the bag. It was also his first win since The Open last July, when he outdueled Phil Mickelson, then 46, in a classic.
Was it especially gratifying to push back a challenge from a 24-year-old like Schniederjans in this, a season in which his young peers like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have reigned?
“It’s always good to beat the 24-year-olds,” Stenson said with a bemused smile. “And the 34-year-olds, and sometimes the 46-year-olds.”
Ollie Schniederjans closes in impressive fashion at Wyndham
SCHNIEDERJANS EYES EAST LAKE
Ollie Schniederjans likes to say he’s on his own trajectory, which is worth remembering given the success of peers like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. The soft-spoken Schniederjans didn’t even take up golf until he was 12 — he was into baseball and basketball — but got good fast, reaching No. 1 as an amateur and becoming an All-American at Georgia Tech.
Now the hatless rookie is hitting his stride on TOUR, thanks in part to a newfound belief in his putting and his putter, a Callaway Toulon that he put in the bag this week. He birdied three of the last four holes Sunday, when he was the only player in the field who went without a bogey.
“Probably the best I ever played for four days,” he said. “I putted awesome all week.” (He was sixth in the field in strokes gained: putting at +1.825.)
Schniederjans moved from 74th to 39th in the FedExCup, the significance of which was not lost on him. As a member of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and a resident of Alpharetta, about 30 minutes away from East Lake, he has played the TOUR Championship venue numerous times. He’ll need to move up just nine more spots in the standings over the next three tournaments, when points are quadrupled, in order to get there for the season-ender, Sept. 21-24.
“The goal to start the year was to make it to the TOUR Championship, so this is a huge boost,” Schniederjans said. His best score on the course? “I think 64,” he said.
CALL OF THE DAY
Martin Flores' ace assists playoff hopes at Wyndham
Ben Crane aces the prize hole at Wyndham
ACES WILD IN FINAL ROUND
Roberto Castro made a hole-in-one at the 174-yard third hole on the way to a final-round 66 and a T28 finish.
Then things got crazy.
Ben Crane started the week at 147th in the FedExCup, so he needed to make a big move in order to play his way to New York and the first Playoffs event, THE NORTHERN TRUST.
With scores of 69-64-72-67, Crane didn’t quite get it done, never contending and finishing T37. But he got a great consolation prize when he aced the 172-yard 16th hole at Sedgefield, a master stroke that — as the first hole-in-one there this week — brought 105,000 Wyndham rewards points for not only Crane but also his caddie, Joel Stock.
“It's been a special week,” said Crane, who stayed with friends in Greensboro. “And then, you know, kind of playing pretty good but need something to get over the hump. Got to 16 there and hit a beautiful shot. As soon as I hit it: ‘Oh, be right, baby.’
“Sure enough, it landed two paces short there and rolled in just like a putt. You know, most PGA TOUR players — I have to brag — don't nail the celebration, but Billy Horschel and I did a lot of choreography work beforehand and nailed it, did the right high-fives, the caddies did the right high-fives. … It was awesome. We had a lot of fun with it.”
Crane’s fate was similar but different than that of Martin Flores, who also aced the 16th two hours later. Although Flores did not get the Wyndham points — only the first golfer to ace the hole got the prize — he shot a final-round 63 to tie for seventh, as did playing partner Cameron Smith (63). The difference: While Smith was already squared away for the FedExCup Playoffs, Flores played his way in, moving up from 139th to 118th.
“I was really thankful that I got to watch Cam hit first,” Flores said of his hole-in-one at 16, “because that kind of changed a little bit of how hard I was going to hit my 8-iron.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Ryan Armour (64, T4) had missed the cut in his three previous starts at the Wyndham, in 2007, 2008 and 2015. But with a slight equipment modification this time — new shafts — he finished in the top 10 for the first time since a T6 at the 2007 Valero Texas Open. Armour, 41, moved from 187th to 159th in the FedExCup. …
Shane Lowry (67, T7) notched his first top-10 finish since a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open. …
Three-time Wyndham winner Davis Love III, vying to become the oldest TOUR winner at 53, shot a final-round 69 to finish T10, his first top-10 since winning the 2015 Wyndham. He was making his 746th official start on TOUR. …
Matt Every, who opened with a 61, finished strong, too, with a 66 to finish 13th — a promising result at the end of a season in which he missed 20 cuts. He still has one more year of full eligibility on TOUR from his win at the 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, a tournament that offers a three-year exemption for a win. …
Hunter Mahan, who came into the week at 197th in the FedExCup, shot an even-par 70 to tie for 16th, his best result of the season. Mahan, who once reached as high as fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, moved up 15 spots to 182nd in the FedExCup.
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