Before moving into the quick 5, obvious congrats go out to Henrik Stenson. He was easily the worthy winner of the $10 million Sunday at East Lake, and his attitude of not giving up is a reminder to us all that a little self belief and effort can go a long way.
We’ll start with the notables who played well last week. Or better yet, let’s talk about those who didn’t.
The two that most come to mind would be Tiger and Adam Scott, the two with the most to gain and the most to lose coming into the week (monetarily speaking). Adam gets a free pass because, well, he’s a nice guy. That and the fact that he became so ill Friday evening that he would’ve undoubtedly withdrawn from any other event in which he wasn’t competing for 8 figures. It was evident Saturday morning when Adam looked more like yours truly playing East Lake than it looked like him playing East Lake. Horrible timing, what a week to come down with a bug… Tiger Woods was sick too, but more along the lines of being sick of playing ratty golf. It’s amazing that the guy we’ve watched play over the past few months is the same guy who’s won 5 times this year and will easily win Player of the Year honors later this week. It was a great start for Tiger this season, but a very frustrating finish. And zero majors since 2008, still. I won’t get into the oscillation thing, I’ve moved on.
Secondly… two words: Spieth Rocks. The kid came into the season playing on sponsors exemptions and no status, and ends the season with a win, three 2nd place finishes, 9 top-10′s, $3.8 million in his bank account and a PGA Tour membership for the next 20+ years by the looks of things. For a very small window of time yesterday at East Lake, he gave us something to get all worked up about. Great season, Jordan. Keep it up, kid.
Thirdly… Finchem has been on record acknowledging that the FEC playoff structure isn’t perfect, and the points distribution (weighted more heavily in the playoffs) is designed to add excitement to those last four events of the season. But he’s been very fortunate to avoid the perfect storm. Imagine the chaos that would ensue with having a player like Steve Stricker, who hasn’t won a single event all season, winning the final event of the year and bagging the $10 million… Nothing against Stricker, who has managed 4 runner-ups this season and played very well, but I just don’t see how that competes against a player who has won 5 times this season (Tiger). The formula needs to be tweaked, Tim. And it wouldn’t hurt to remove one of those playoff events, making it three playoff events total, and expanding the field to include more than 30 players in the Tour Championship finale.
Fourthly… Henrik Stenson had several gut-check moments Sunday, and it was impressive to watch him manage his game on a day when it was clear that he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Hopefully Jim Furyk was paying close attention, because Henrik provided a textbook example of how to close out a win with a significant lead going into the final round with everything at stake. The only thing missing Sunday was Fanny Sunesson there guiding him along and keeping him in the moment, but Gareth Lord, who took Stenson’s bag at the start of this season after Fanny officially retired, likewise did a phenomenal job getting his player around East Lake Sunday. But it does beg the question: does the caddie get the customary 10% of the $10 million???
And lastly… just a small point to make about how great these players are. A majority of them are hitting approach shots these days from 200-235 yards closer to the hole than I can hit a wedge approach into a green from half that distance. We’re talking insanely good. But most of us already knew that.