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Golf notebook: Stenson rode borrowed club head to glory

The SportsXchange

--While warming up on the range before the second round of his victory in the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Henrik Stenson caved in the face of his 4-wood while hitting a shot.

After the round, his caddie, Gareth Lord, started looking around for a replacement for the 17-degree Callaway X Hot club.

Lord was staying in Atlanta with a friend from college who is a club pro at a local club, Ashton Hills, and asked his friend if he had any replacement heads.

There were none in the pro shop, but James Anderson, a member of the club, had one in his golf back and agreed to loan it to Stenson.

He never got it back.

Stenson put the club head, which was fixed onto his old shaft, into his golf bag and used it in the last two rounds en route to winning the finale and the $10 million FedEx Cup.

"It actually seems to be better than the first one," Lord said.

It was reminiscent of 2010, when Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup with a used putter he purchased for $39 in the pro shop at TPC Boston two weeks earlier at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

When told this, Lord said with a smile: "This one was free. Actually, we 'stole' it."

Stenson gave Anderson a brand-new 3-wood that Callaway shipped to him and plans to send him a new 4-wood to replace the one he used on the weekend at East Lake.

After posting six top-three finishes in his last eight worldwide starts, including his two victories in the PGA Tour playoffs, Stenson rose to No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings.

That equaled his career-best rating, a level he first reached two weeks after he captured the 2009 Tour Championship.

Two years ago, he slipped to No. 230.

--Tiger Woods earned the PGA of America's award as the PGA Tour's Player of the Year, which is based on a point system, for a record 11th time.

Woods collected 90 points, 10 for each of his five victories, 20 points for winning the PGA Tour money title and 20 for winning the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted stroke average.

It was his ninth Vardon Trophy, but it was the first time he claimed either award since 2009.

"(I'm) very satisfied," Woods said of his season, which injured just about everything except a major victory. "I had a number of chances to win some tournaments. I won five, which is, I think, a pretty good year. I've done that a few times over the course of my career.

"I wish I would have been a little more consistent in some of the events, but overall, at the end of the day, you know, to add to the win total for the year, it's always a good thing."

Woods captured three of the top 10 tournaments in the world -- the Players Championship, sometimes called "The Fifth Major," the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

His other victories came in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods will play this week in the Presidents Cup, and he said after that competition he will take a short break before he begins working with instructor Sean Foley on a game plan moving toward next season and beyond.

"We're going to take the week off and kind of recoup and recover, get ready for the Presidents Cup, and then basically assess the year and what we need to work on in the offseason," said Woods, who regained the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings this year.

"I've got a couple of tournaments that I'm playing in that I could try and make some improvements, try and work on some things for next year."

Woods will play a head-to-head match with Rory McIlroy on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Haikou, China, on Oct. 28 before teeing it up in two more tournaments this year.

He will play in the Turkish Airlines Open in early November and the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in December.

--Phil Mickelson has played in 22 tournaments this season, and he is not done yet, but look for him to start cutting back at age 43.

Woods played a more limited scheduled the past few years, and Mickelson obviously took notice as Steve Stricker cut back to 13 PGA Tour events this season at age 46, finished in the top 10 eight times and wound up third in the FedEx Cup standings.

"I had some great highs and I had some lows," said Mickelson, who captured the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Open Championship at Muirfield. "I don't play my highest level every single week. I have kind of ups and downs, and I'm a very emotional player.

"I think that I'm going to have to factor that into some of my scheduling and maybe cut out 25 percent of my events in an effort to play at a high level when I do play, because I know that I'm not able to do it 25 weeks a year. Maybe I can do it 18 or 20, though."

Mickelson averaged 20.7 starts over the past 10 seasons and won at least one tournament in each of those years.

After the Presidents Cup this week at Muirfield Village, he is committed to play in the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia at the end of October, and the WGC-HSBC Champions the following week at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, where he won the tournament in 2007 and 2009.

--The LPGA Tour announced that Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, was selected as the site of the 2017 Solheim Cup, which pits the best women golfers from the United States against their contemporaries from Europe.

Des Moines Golf and Country Club hosted 1999 U.S. Senior Open, which was won by Dave Eichelberger and drew a record crowd of 252,800 fans.

The 2017 Solheim Cup will be the 15th edition of the biennial event.

The European team posted an 18-10 victory over the Americans earlier this month at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., claiming its first victory on American soil and winning twice in a row for the first time in the series.

The U.S. holds an 8-5 lead.

"We are very excited to be heading to the Des Moines Golf and Country Club for the 2017 Solheim Cup," LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan said. "The support that the Des Moines community has shown for golf events in the area has been tremendous.

"Based on the incredible welcome that we've already seen from the city, state, and local organizers, I have no doubt that the 2017 Solheim Cup is already on track to be the best event we've ever staged."

The 2015 Solheim Cup will be contested at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot near Heidelberg, Germany.

--When the Golf Channel went on the air in 1995, the first tournament it telecast live was the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic.

The network recently extended its agreement, beginning in 2015, to broadcast all Euro Tour tournaments through 2024.

"The European Tour's regular morning timeslot has kicked off Golf Channel's tournament coverage days since the network's launch, and this extension further solidifies our strong partnership, which now will span three decades with this new agreement," said Mike McCarley, president of the Golf Channel.

The Golf Channel reported that European Tour viewership increased nearly 60 percent since the channel became part of the NBC Sports Group in January 2011, when Comcast, which owned Golf Channel, acquired a majority stake in NBCUniversal.

That partnership added a new twist earlier this year, when NBC telecast weekend coverage of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, won by Phil Mickelson. NBC will broadcast the Scottish Open again in 2014.

The recently signed 10-year agreement includes rights for the Golf Channel's networks in Canada and Japan to broadcast the European Tour.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

--The LPGA Tour announced that its 2014 season will begin with the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic on Jan. 23-26 on the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis in Nassau.

This will be the first time in 13 years that the LPGA Tour season will start in January. The first of two swings through Asia begins in February.

"Playing in the Bahamas in an East Coast time zone will be a great way for our fans to watch our season-opening event live on Golf Channel," Whan said in a statement.

The inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, scheduled as a 72-hole, full-field event, was nearly wiped out by torrential rains in May. The tournament was shortened to 36 holes, played as three 12-hole rounds.

The LPGA also is close to announcing two new domestic events, according to Golfweek. The magazine reported that plans for new events are being finalized for the Grand Rapids, Mich., area and on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts.

The Grand Rapids tournament is expected to be sponsored by Meijer Inc., a hypermarket chain of stores, and played at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Mich., in August. The Nantucket event would be played at Miacomet Golf Club, possibly in September.

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