Tuesday 16 January 2018

Stenson invincible as Rory slips again

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson

William S Callahan

Henrik Stenson knocked Tiger Woods off the top of the FedEx Cup table as he strode majestically to victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

Stenson (37) picked up his third tournament win in the US and first since The Players at Sawgrass in 2009 when a final round of five-under-par 66 propelled him to 22-under, two ahead of nearest challenger Steve Stricker.

The Swede, second at The Open and third at last month's PGA, had plummeted out of the world's top 200 since winning at Sawgrass. Yet he's utterly invincible from tee to green these days and appeared infallible with the putter in Boston. Mind you, Stenson didn't need that putter at 17, where he put the cap on a fabulous week's work by pitching in for a dramatic birdie three after hitting his approach into a bunker for the first and only time in four rounds.

While Stenson racked up a personal record of 61 greens in regulation at TPC Boston, Tiger slumped to his worst finish at the Deutsche Bank, a tie for 65th, after a slipshod final-round 73 left him on four-under-par. Defending champion Rory McIlroy fell another place down the world rankings to fifth after finishing tied 47th with Graeme McDowell on seven-under. US Open champion Justin Rose leapfrogged the Ulsterman into fourth after taking a share of 16th.

If McIlroy took one giant leap forward with Sunday's 64, he endured two exasperating backward steps early in yesterday's final round of one-over-par 72.

In keeping with his recent penchant for "silly mistakes", the 24-year-old slipped up badly from mid-fairway as he stumbled to a double-bogey six at his opening hole, TPC Boston's 10th.

After hitting his approach into deep rough a few yards to the left of the green, McIlroy took three more strokes to get on to the putting surface. Further misery followed at 14, where he made six after thinning his escape from a greenside trap 20 yards through the green.

McIlroy's short game is nowhere near the standard it was last year as he romped to back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff victories here and at the BMW Championship last summer. He racked up four double-bogeys in his final three rounds at TPC Boston. Yet, to McIlroy's credit, he clawed his way back to even-par with four birdies before a bogey at six pegged him back once again.

McDowell posted a one-under 70 yesterday and the two Ulstermen easily qualify for the 70-man field for the third FedEx Cup play-off, The BMW, next Thursday week in Chicago, where McIlroy once again is defending champion.

Joint overnight leader Sergio Garcia slithered down the leaderboard into a tie for fourth with a disappointing 73.

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