It was only matter of time — that’s what Henrik Stenson kept telling us. Over the last few months, starting with the Scottish Open in July, Stenson has been in contention regularly, with the exception of last week at The Barclays, where fatigue and flu-like symptoms caught up to him and he placed T43.
His last five starts, not withstanding his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship today: T3 at the Scottish Open, 2nd at the Open Championship, T2 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, 3rd at the PGA Championship. See, he was due.
It sounds cliche, but if you continue putting yourself in contention as Stenson had been doing, it’s likely one of these weeks everything will fall into place. With the exception of the Scottish Open, Stenson hadn’t felt like he had let any of those tournaments slip away, rather he had been outplayed. The difference was probably a bounce or two.
“Well, I mean I wasn’t disappointed, like I said a few times, yeah, at the Scottish Open I had a two shot lead going into the last round and then I didn’t play my best and then Phil came through and won that tournament,” said Stenson. “That’s the one I felt I let go little bit. I didn’t feel I played as well as I should have and could have.
“These other three tournaments I’ve been playing trying my hardest. I’ve been playing really well and they’ve been won by some great players in great ways. I can’t look back at my performance and regret it too much. I ended up in a sand divot on 14 in the PGA on the last round. I was two off the pace at that time. It pretty much sanded my chances, if you know what I mean.
“Other than that I played great and so many guys have played better. And today was my turn. I was up there once again, putting myself in the mix.”
Indeed. On Monday at TPC Boston, it was Stenson’s turn to be the bride, rather than the bridesmaid, so to speak. He led for most of the day, but Steve Stricker was making a late charge and when Stenson pulled his approach shot into the greenside bunker on no. 17, things looked shaky for a moment before he holed out for birdie, so it wasn’t a big deal when he three-putted from 60 feet on 18 to post a five-under 66 and a two-shot victory.
“To be honest, I was ripping it when we started off the rain delay,” said Stenson, who captured his third career win on the PGA Tour. “I thought this was nice. Obviously I was in the driver’s seat but still a lot of holes to play and a lot of guys behind me. And I knew they weren’t going to back off. I hit a couple of loose ones, and made one or two nice birdies.
“And of course the bounce back on 17 after missing the approach and then holing the bunker shot. It made it a little easier coming up 18. I was kind of expecting standing over a five, 6-footer there, instead it was the winning shot and closed out the tournament more or less. I forgive myself that three-putt on the last.”
The hole-out on no. 17 sealed the deal — sometimes it’s not just skill, but you need a little luck like that to win and it was clearly Stenson’s week, which was well-deserved, especially after he went through his most recent rough patch from 2010-2011 (he had an even more difficult time in the early 2000s). After winning the 2009 Players Championship, Stenson was ranked as high as no. 4 in the world rankings, and then, at the start of the 2012 season, he had dropped to 230th.
“I mean 2011 was a really poor season, by any standards,” he said. “And I started coming back here the beginning of last year. At the end of last year I got my first win in three and a half years, I think, by winning the South African Open Championship. And then I didn’t quite get it going early this year, kind of from Bay Hill, Houston time, I got my ticket to Augusta, and from then on it’s been steady progress, and a couple of fantastic months. And this obviously is the icing on the cake. I was longing for a win and I got it. Probably closer than I thought I would get it. So, again, very pleased with this week and my performances.”
With this win, Stenson is now ranked 4th in the latest world rankings. The lesson here? Never give up. Duh.
I remember when Stenson was having a rough time in 2011, which was my first full year covering the Tour, but he was always so nice and he’d talk to me for 5-10 minutes, and then afterward I’d check and see that he shot 78 — and you would have never known based on his demeanor and the generosity with his time.
Considering the lows he’s been through, Stenson’s win today officially completes his comeback.
“Of course I’ve been low and frustrated at times,” he said. “But I think if you let that get into your mind too deeply I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you guys today. I’m not giving up. I’m not a quitter. I’ll always bounce back.”
As you may know by now, Stenson has a fantastic, unique sense of humor — which was why I penned a post a few weeks ago titled, “Why Henrik Stenson deserves to win the PGA Championship more than anyone else.” I highly recommend checking it out, and not just because I wrote it, but it shows you just have funny the guy is.
I’m about to get kicked out of the media center and I still have to drive back to NYC, so pardon the brevity/sloppiness of the next few paragraphs. I’ll update as soon as I can (probably Tuesday morning-ish.)
*Steve Stricker, Jordan Spieth and Graham DeLaet: I already wrote about them here.
*The Top Five points leaders headed into the BMW Championship:
No. 1 Henrik Stenson
No. 2 Tiger Woods
No. 3 Adam Scott
No. 4 Matt Kuchar
No. 5 Graham DeLaet
*FedExCup bubble boys, with a special shout-out to Brendan Steele who birdied the last four holes to play his way into the BMW Championship. So, who was outside the top 70 at the start of the week and who was inside the top 70 but got eliminated?
*Ernie Els secured the last spot in the BMW Championship next week at No. 70 in the FedExCup standings. Els finished with 823.467 points just ahead of Ryan Palmers’ 823.000 points.
Players on various FedExCup bubbles entering the Deutsche Bank Championship
30 Jimmy Walker MC No. 45
70 Tim Clark MC Eliminated from Playoffs/No. 80
100 Camilo Villegas T35 Eliminated from Playoffs/No. 82
Players on various FedExCup bubbles entering the BMW Championship
30 Lee Westwood T27
70 Ernie Els T20
Deutsche Bank Championship Implications on the FedExCup
The following players entered the week ranked inside the top 70 but were eliminated from the Playoffs:
|Player||Deutsche Bank||Final FEC Rank||Prior FEC Rank|
The following players entered the week ranked Nos. 71-100 in the FedExCup standings and played their way into the BMW Championship:
|Player||Deutsche Bank||Current FEC Rank||Prior FEC Rank|
Here’s a composite look at players who were outside of the top 70 in the FedExCup standings entering the Deutsche Bank Championship and played their way into the BMW Championship:
2013 (7) Kevin Stadler, Brian Davis, Ian Poulter, Marc Leishman, Nicholas Thompson, Brendan Steele, Ernie Els
Well played, guys.