Staff and Wire Reports

Henrik Stenson has stitched together his own “Rocky” story, but without taking too many punches to the head.
The No. 4-ranked golfer in the world is coming off a win in the PGA Tour Championship that netted him the points championship for the FedEx Cup that earned him $11.4 million in prize money. It is a far cry from where he was just a year ago when he was the No. 230 golfer in the world and often had problems making it to the final day of tournaments.
"All this success is way beyond what I could have imagined," Stenson said. "Since the Scottish Open, it's been just an incredible run. I'm speechless, but really satisfied."
Stenson began climbing back to the top of international golf at the start of the 2013 season when he finished second in the Shell Houston Open in March and fifth in the Players’ Championship in May. He won the Scottish Open in July and followed up the victory on the European Tour with a second place in the Open Championship and second place in the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational. He placed third in the PGA Championship before winning the Deutsche Bank Championship in the beginning of September.
“It’s frustrating when you are not getting your game together and you’re not playing at a level you know you can play. But quitting has never been an option and luckily I’ve won some nice tournaments in the past so I have never really doubted my ability to play among the best players when I am playing well,” Stenson said. “Having that in the back of your mind is a comfort. So it’s more about getting your game in shape and start building it up and playing well again.”
The Swede admits to hitting a low point in 2009, when his game inexplicably disappeared and he was the victim of a massive Ponzi scheme fraud that cost him his entire life earnings. Things seemed bleak until Stenson received a call from his former coach Torsten Hansson. Stenson accepted Hansson’s offer to work together again, and just as “Mickey” resurrected the career of fabled movie boxer “Rocky Balboa,” Hansson was able to put Stenson back together.
“He contacted me a couple weeks before the 2012 French Open to ask if I was interested in working with him again. I said, ‘Of course, you are one of the main people in my life and I could never say no,’” Stenson said. “I knew what we needed to do, what we had to sort out. People who end up in a chaotic and confused situation need to work with someone that can help them get back to where they want to go.”
The work with Hansson was only part of his comeback. The main portion came from Stenson himself, who, like “Rocky,” simply refused to accept that he could not win.
“[The wins and success] is down to a number of factors. I started 2012 tired of playing poorly, I was trying make some assaults on the leaderboard and I managed to do that without playing great,” he said. “I was finishing 15th and 20th on the PGA Tour and had a couple of top tens in Europe over the summer. It’s not something we did in June that all of a sudden made me play great in July. It’s been a journey since the beginning of 2012 really doing things better, working harder and getting the game together, gradually it got better and better and better and I’ve got a great run of form. It’s been a year and a half in the making; parts of the puzzle have come together.”
Stenson led the PGA Tour Championship from wire to wire, shooting a 64 in the opening round to set the pace. He held off a fast-finishing 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth who was briefly just one off the lead. The victory sealed his win in the Fedex Cup, which uses a points system to crown the top golfer on the PGA Tour each year. It is a far cry from the days when some driving ranges weren’t large enough to accommodate his errant drives and he had to borrow money just to buy golf tees.
"The money is definitely the second thing to me right now. It's having these two trophies that means a whole lot more to me than the money," he said. "I never give up. It's just been a great summer, way beyond what I could imagine."