September 3, 2013

This time it's a Stenson win

Henrik Stenson, often near the top of the leaderboard this season, gets his first win of the year as Sergio Garcia fades.

The Associated Press

NORTON, Mass. - The final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship had something for everyone on Labor Day -- mostly a trophy, finally, for Henrik Stenson.

Henrik Stenson
click image to enlarge

Henrik Stenson salutes the gallery on the 18th hole after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship at Norton, Mass., on Monday. Stenson tied the tournament record by shooting a 22-under 262.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

He was runner-up to Phil Mickelson at a major and Tiger Woods at a World Golf Championship, and he tied for third at the PGA Championship to keep climbing in the world ranking. Stenson was doing just about everything right this summer except winning, usually because someone simply played better.

Not this time.

Stenson surged past a fast-fading Sergio Garcia with three straight birdies, seized control with a 5-iron into 15 feet for another birdie right before the rain delay, and then put away Steve Stricker by holing out from the bunker for a birdie late in the final round at the TPC Boston.

He wound up with a 5-under 66 and a two-shot win, and suddenly his summer is looking better than ever.

"Pretty perfect timing, I guess," Stenson said. "There's never a bad time to win a golf tournament, I know that much."

The 37-year-old Swede moved to the top of the FedEx Cup standings after two playoff events, assuring him his first trip to the Tour Championship and a clear shot at the $10 million prize.

"I'm just pleased I won here," said Stenson, who tied the tournament record at 22-under 262. "This was a big goal of mine to win a golf tournament after all those nice finishes. My family is here. I'm going to see my kids in a little bit. It's all good."

Stenson's win was only part of the high drama Monday, so much that Woods became an afterthought. He closed with a 73 and tied for 65th. The best image of him all day was walking back out to the course after a rain delay with he and his 6-year-old daughter dressed in matching red.

Brendan Steele thought his season was over when the final round was halted for two hours because of rain. Steele made a birdie putt on the 15th when play resumed, hit a 9-iron to 2 feet for birdie on the 16th and closed with two more birdies to sneak into the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and advance to the third playoff event in two weeks at Conway Farms north of Chicago.

"I did everything that I can do, especially on a day that wasn't going my way for a long time," Steele said.

Steele appeared to bump Ernie Els out of the top 70 when he tied him at 12-under 272. He started the tournament three points ahead of the South African.

"It feels like I just missed the cut," Els said when he finished.

But the Big Easy was given a big reprieve. K.J. Choi made a bogey on the par-5 18th. Charley Hoffman made bogey on the 17th. Kevin Chappell missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole. That combination was enough for Els to grab the 70th spot by a fraction of a point.

Stricker's third runner-up finish this year allowed him to move into the top 10 and qualify for the Presidents Cup team, despite playing a part-time schedule. That put the 10th spot up for grabs between Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson, who were playing together on the other side of the course.

They were tied at 8 under -- big advantage to Simpson -- until the former U.S. Open champion dropped two shots on the last four holes. Johnson faced a 25-foot birdie putt on his last hole that determined whether he made the team, and he poured it in the middle.

Johnson last week gave up a chance to earn points by skipping The Barclays to be in his brother's wedding.

Lost in all this commotion was Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan dressed in a shirt with the Dallas Cowboys' silver-and-blue colors. He went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle at the end of his round for a 62 right before the rain delay.

With such soft conditions, his 17-under 267 was never going to hold up. Spieth wound up tied for fourth, and is No. 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. He is assured of becoming the first player since Woods in 1996 to start a season with no status and reach the Tour Championship. Woods, however, did it in seven tournaments.

 

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