A relaxed and somewhat chatty Tiger Woods wrapped up his 2013 season with media after the Tour Championship on Sunday, when he made mention of a streak he had in 2007 where he “made everything” and won a lot. He said the same was true with Luke Donald on his ascent to No. 1, that he made putts and couldn’t hit a bad shot; and same with Rory McIlroy, too, when he soared to No. 1.
(Remember him? Rory? Curly haired kid? Irish accent?)
So I guess that Tiger Theory is as good a way as any to explain the Henrik Stenson Phenomenon that seems to have visited golf from an alternate galaxy.
The 37-year-old Swede is the latest to have the golf gods pull him aside, give him a wink and say: “This, kid. This is your time. Enjoy it, because we won’t be saying this to you for the rest of your life. This is what we do. We come, we reward those who find something in their swing and in their brain, we let you roll, we get you paid, and then eventually we’ll come pull the rug out from under you. Just ask your pal Rors.”
Presto! Henrik Stenson, the guy who endured two career slumps so mighty you thought he’d fallen off the face of the Earth; the guy who famously played a golf shot in his boxer briefs; the guy who has a simmering temper below his stoic Scandinavian mug is, after a Tour Championship and FedExCup playoff triumph, all of a sudden King of the Golf World.
Want to hit a green in regulation? Stenson’s your man, leading all players at East Lake, just as he did in two of the other three FedExCup events. Want to rank first on the PGA Tour in ball striking? Stenson’s your man. Want to go wire-to-wire at the Tour Championship, with the pressure of a $10 million prize and a side bonus of $1.4 million for winning the event? Stenson’s your – very wealthy – man.
All this from a player who had two PGA Tour wins in his career, and no majors. Yeah, it happens this way sometimes. As the ad guy once said: These Guys Are Good, and in any given hot stretch, One Guy Can Be Really Good.
Still, it’s been a two-month blitzkrieg nobody saw coming. Stenson identified his swing clicking at the Scottish Open, where he finished tie-3rd behind winner Phil Mickelson. Since then, his tournament finishes:
So if you were the guy who said in January, at your Fantasy Golf draft, while the trade winds of Kapalua buffeted the young lovers Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky (remember that start-of-year gallery buzz? Now our paramours are engaged!), that Stenson was your pick to win the FedExCup then just stop right now. Because nobody said that. Not even Stenson.
Something clicked in the summer of 2013, and it was fairways and greens, ahoy. He called it “an incredible run … I’m speechless.” He also reflected on his two career dips, falling to 230th in the world at one point, and said: “One should never give up. Always keep on trying harder. I managed to come out of some big slumps. Hang in there. Try your best, good things will come your way.”
You going to doubt Dr. Feelgood? He’s got $11.4 million reasons for you not to.
SCORECARD OF THE WEEK
73-71-69-67 – Even par 280, Tiger Woods, tie-22nd, FedExCup Tour Championship, East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta, Ga.
Like a football player streaking for the end zone only to be caught from behind and tackled at the 1-yard line, Tiger Woods’ season-long destiny to win the FedExCup, seemingly inevitable when he logged five wins by early August, ended with the world’s No. 1-ranked player as the FedExCup’s No. 2-ranked player.
For the master of holding the 54-hole lead, golf’s ultimate closer, it’s more than a little surprising to see Tiger Woods not bring enough to the East Lake table to lock down the season-long points title. But as we
And speaking of change, how about Tiger firing an opening-round 73, 29th out of 30 players, to effectively eliminate himself right out of the gate? Very un-Tiger like. Then, on Friday, Tiger admitted fatigue has affected his game. Very un-Tiger like. Then again, enduring a five-plus year span without a major win is very un-Tiger like, too. Back to our theme about hairstyles and interest rates.
Plus, after Sunday’s round, when Tiger spoke, he said having his two children greet him after the round reminded him that “there’s more to life than putting a little white ball into a gopher hole.” Great sentiment, but who kidnapped Tiger Woods?
When Tiger tees it up at Augusta in 2014, he will be 38 years old, a little balder and still the player Jack Nicklaus this past weekend tabbed to top his major championship total record of 18. Either Jack is being magnanimous, or he understands that Tiger has ten more years of great golf, and 40 chances to get five majors. Who’s to say Daddy-first, FedExCup-second Tiger isn’t that player?