Tour Championship: Stenson Still in the Driver’s Seat

The Tour Championship and concurrent chase of the FedExCup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, is going very well for Henrik Stenson. Shooting 4-under on the day, he’s extended his lead to 4 shots over Adam Scott. He’s at 10-under and Scott is at 6. And he managed that with only 13 clubs. Warming up on the range, he noticed that his 4-wood was making a funny sound and discovered that the head had cracked. Fortunately, he left the club in his locker:

So I played with 13 clubs; if you carry a non‑conforming club that’s broken before you play, you will get a two‑shot penalty, and if you use it during the round, you’re disqualified.  So that’s obviously not a good thing.

Scott shot just 1-under, but he felt like he played okay:

I’m fairly pleased.  I didn’t play my best golf out there today.  A few errant tee shots.  Not that I got in a lot of trouble, but when you’re out of position, it’s really hard to have a good score around here. 

And then, lo and behold, we have young Mr. Jordan Spieth sliding into 3rd place with a solid 3-under. Where does this kid keep coming from?

Yeah, today was a day where I felt like I shot as low as I could have shot, which is kind of a rare case this year with me.

My ball striking, I’ve given myself a lot of opportunities in the past couple of months, and my good tournaments were the tournaments where I felt comfortable putting.  Today, the ball striking was a little off, but I must have had probably 24, 25 putts.  It wasn’t that many.

The guys at T4 and 6 shots back, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel are a great illustration of the quirkiness of the FedExCup points system. They all have the same 36-hole total of 136, but:

  • Rose shot 68, 68 and he went from 8th to 8th in the standings
  • Johnson also shot 68, 68 and went from 30th to 14th
  • Horschel shot 66, 70 and went from 22nd to 11th

So they would each have to win and hope that the leaders coming into the week above them all tanked to some degree or other so they could leap over them. Tiger Woods is doing his best to help them out falling all the way to T26 in the tournament, 14 shots out of the lead. He’s about the only one optimistic about his chances at this point:

I’m still in contention.  There’s 36 holes.  That’s why we play.  That’s why we play four rounds.  This is not a sprint.  It’s tournament golf.  It’s four rounds.  It’s a marathon.  You’ve got to keep plugging around.

While some might think this a little dreamy of him, the power of declaration and intention shouldn’t be underestimated. Getting the words to come out of your mouth is the first step in solidifying intention and once intention has been brought to the forefront, amazing things routinely happen. Just look at Spieth’s year.

Or you could look at the pairing of Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney. At 2-over par on Thursday, they played so badly, they were second off the first tee Friday morning with nowhere to go but up. With both of them shooting 65s to move all the way up to T7, clearly they had high goals. Watney summed it up:

Yeah, we go in second off, obviously knew we had to play a good round to get back in the tournament.

Keegan started off great, so I was just kind of trying to play catch‑up to him all day.  It was a fun day.  It’s much better than yesterday.  I just hope we get to play a full 18 holes tomorrow.

The weather he alludes to is the bane of the Southeast, thunderstorms. It doesn’t look like it’s going to miss them with a 40% chance beginning around 10 am and increasing to 60 to 70% between 12 to 4 pm. But depending on how that actually develops, with a small field of just 30 guys, they might still be able to get all of the third round in on Saturday. Even if that doesn’t happen, Sunday looks fine to finish up.

To hedge their bets, the Tour is moving the tee times up to 7:30 am and playing in threesomes. Consequently, we’ll have some great pairings Saturday:

7:40 am – Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods, Jason Dufner

8:30 am – Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson

8:40 am – Keegan Bradley, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland

8:50 am – Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel

And the grand finale:

9:00 am – Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth

And young Mr. Spieth has yet another “graduation” to another level of the game. It should be good.

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