Lateral Hazard: A streaker, a squirrel and an anticlimactic U.S. win at Presidents Cup finish off PGA season
Surprised the smart phone text alert didn't come with its own weather delay.
(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.
Here they come, the top 30 players left in the FedEx Cup playoffs, marching toward Atlanta, and look who's the first guy off the plane:
Good ol' Tiger Woods.
Yep, in this weird year of five wins, no majors and oscillating golf balls, the Man in Sunday Red – or, in the case of the weather-delayed BMW Championships, Monday Red – still has the inside track at winning the Cup for the third time in his career, and for the first since his public fall from grace in 2009. Oh, and he'd win $10 million, so he'd like that, I'm sure.
All Tiger has to do is win the Tour Championship on Sunday, and the purse is his. Now, there are other, more complicated ways he can win it, but you don't want to know those ways, do you? You do? Aw, geez. I might get a headache, but suffice to say, he can finish as low as 29th at East Lake's Tour Championship, and he could still redeem his voucher for $10 mil.
- Brian Murphy at Yahoo! Sports3 mths ago
Bad enough that Tiger Woods endured another season without winning a major. Now somebody's coming for his wallet.
That somebody would be the sweet-swinging Swede Henrik Stenson, who obliterated TPC Boston with an avalanche of consistent ball-striking and won the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day, moving past Tiger for the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs with only two legs left. Oh, by the way, the guy who wins the FedEx Cup wins $10 million, more money than Dr. Evil could have ever dreamed.
With five wins this year and the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings well in hand when the playoffs opened, you'd think Tiger was in line for a third FedEx Cup playoff win, to match 2007 and 2009. Ten million would be a welcome salve for a year in which Jack Nicklaus' ghost stiff-armed Tiger yet again.
But Stenson is coming strong. He attacks the game with the fearlessness of a guy who has stared into the abyss, only three years ago falling from the world's top 10 to 230th on the planet when his game left him amid mental strife. Stenson lost a large chunk of his personal fortune to a Ponzi scheme, and the ensuing stress sent his game sideways.
- Brian Murphy at Yahoo! Sports3 mths ago
That little patch of grass between the Nike swoosh on Tiger's golf ball and the 18th hole at Liberty National Golf Course on Sunday (maybe, what, three-quarters of an inch?), was that the difference between Adam Scott and Tiger Woods winning PGA Tour Player of the Year?
Could be. The whole scene was enough to make a world number one player grimace twice – first from the kind of back spasm a soon-to-be 38-year-old suffers; second, because his golf ball stayed one rotation away from forcing a playoff with Scott, the man who right now appears to be the lead horse in the POY race, which is determined by player vote.
After all, here is the New Math: Tiger's five wins are not equal to Scott's two wins. Nope. Not when one of the two wins is the Masters, and second of the two wins is the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. That math is made more striking when the second win is one stroke ahead of the guy with five wins – none of which is a major or a Fed Ex playoff leg.
And now, here we are, four months later, wishing we could hang on to these precious and few major championship moments, wishing Jason Dufner's randy old rump slaps of his lovely bride, Amanda, after winning the PGA Championship could play on the GIFs of our mind, over and over.
But majors season is finished now and has left us with stark alacrity, not unlike a Tiger Woods courtesy car departing Oak Hill Country Club after a tie-40th at Glory's Last Shot. In fact, the majors season has left us so abruptly, "Glory's Last Shot" isn't even the PGA Championship motto anymore. They're now going with "The Season's Final Major," and I wish they hired Don Draper's ad agency to come up with something snappier.
It was a darn good majors season, too.
So, when Tiger Woods obliterates the world's best players in a World Golf Championship event, winning the Bridgestone Invitational by seven whopping strokes, when he looks the world's top 50 practitioners of his craft in the eye and says: "Tell me how my Nikes taste", you'd think you wouldn't hear what I heard at a local golf clubhouse this weekend:
"Hey, look!" said a fellow duffer. "Tiger's winning another tournament that's not a major."
In case you were wondering, yes, the commenter was applying a liberal amount of snark.
[Related: Tiger Woods celebrates win with son Charlie]
Or you'd think I wouldn't get a text from a fellow golf fanatic that read: "His year's still a failure if he doesn't win next week [at the PGA Championship]."
It seems like good things happen to guys like that. Put positive energy into the universe, maybe some positive energy comes back your way.
And so it was that Saturday afternoon outside of Toronto, at Glen Abbey Golf Course, at the Canadian Open, Snedeker was blistering his way to a third-round 63 when he glanced at the leaderboard and noticed something was missing.
Namely, the leader.
This one was for the ages. Everything about it was unforgettable. The setting (Muirfield's hallowed ground in Scotland, a golf course that deigns to crown only legends); the player (the mercurial and thrilling Phil Mickelson, a beloved 43-year-old Californian inducing goose bumps and emotions); the performance (a final-round 66 when a final-round 66 at Muirfield was a ludicrous ask, four birdies in his final six holes to surge past a leader board of monster names, to pass Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods and Adam Scott and to stamp this Open into the annals as an all-time great).
And by extension, to further stamp Mickelson's already great career that much farther up the ladder of all-time great careers.
It's a 180-mile, 3½-hour drive from the highlands of Inverness, Scotland, down south to the region they call East Lothian, where venerable Muirfield will host the 142nd Open Championship, or the "British Open," this week, but for Phil Mickelson, the journey might as well have been a heavenly ride on a winged chariot.
On Sunday night, he became a champion at the home of golf, and that can't sound much better.
(Come to think of it, Lefty's so loaded, he probably bypassed the stark, remote scenery and long and winding roads and loaded up the G-4 for a quick flight down, but that doesn't fit with my point of stressing Gaelic golf and its poetic imagery.)