ICYMI: Stenson misses WGC, Schwartzel hit by pro-am partner's ball

Golf News

NCG rounds up the stories of the week you may have missed, including Henrik Stenson's reasoning for pulling out of the WGC-Match Play.

Stenson’s Match Play masterplan

Like everyone else on the golfing planet, Henrik Stenson isn’t a fan of the group stages of the WGC-Match Play – which is why he will miss this year’s event in a couple of weeks at Austin Country Club.

“I was not that keen on the round robin,” Stenson said. “To me, match play is do-or-die. Either I win or I lose. I kind of like that format.”

The 2007 champion has missed the tournament the last three years, since the change in format, and he would like to see another change to the set-up of the week.

The Swede has spoken with PGA Tour executives and he would advocate a system that mirrors that of the US Amateur with 36 holes of stroke play preceding the match play.

“You could potentially even put another couple of guys in the field if you wanted to, to start with,” he added. “Then you get to make sure that everyone is around for a little bit.”

Stenson will next play Bay Hill and the Houston Open, where he was second in 2016, before heading to the Masters.

Cantlay has his card after horrific few years 

Patrick Cantlay was considered by many as the brightest prospect of the American Walker Cup team, a team that consisted of Jordan Spieth, Peter Uihlein, Patrick Rodgers, Harris English and Russell Henley.

He was the No. 1 amateur for a record 55 weeks.

In his first four PGA Tour starts, while still an amateur, the Californian finished inside the top 25 including the 2011 US Open, the one where Rory McIlroy ran away with it. The week after he shot a 60 at the Travelers.

Cantlay

Cantlay turned pro in 2012, signing with Mark Steinberg, and then won on the Web.com the following March.

And then he got a stress fracture in his back in the summer while warming up and struggled to find a solution to his problems.

He was told to leave the clubs alone for nine months at the start of 2016 and then in February his best mate and caddie Chris Roth was killed in a hit-and-run incident, Cantlay was walking 10 feet behind him and saw it all.

He did consider returning to UCLA to complete his course having turned pro with two years left of it to run but he is now back and playing on a medical extension. The 24-year-old had nine starts to try and keep his card – and he did it on just his second start with his runners-up finish at the Valspar.

“I try and separate the two, the injury and the personal stuff,” Cantlay said. “The back injury is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. But then my best friend dying far outweighs that. I don’t intertwine the two. I’ve worked really hard to get back to where I am, and I’ve done a lot of good work.”

And he’s back on the PGA Tour where he belongs.

Rahm takes in Augusta recce

A year ago Jon Rahm was outside the top 500 in the world, now he is 25th in the world and last week he paid a visit to Augusta for a couple of days.

The Spaniard, who is a 40-1 shot for the Masters, reportedly visited the hallowed grounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to his manager Tim Mickelson. It was the first time he had played the course.

Rahm has now joined the European Tour as an affiliate member so is now eligible to earn Ryder Cup points.

Not even time to shout fore…

Charl Schwartzel had to pull out of the Valspar pro-am after being hit by his amateur playing partner’s ball. On his first hole the ball hit a tree and ricocheted onto Schwartzel’s wrist as he tried to take cover.

After 10 holes he was unable to hold the club but, after some ice painkillers, he was OK to tee it up on Thursday.

Ochoa back… for one week only

Former World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa will be back in action in her own LPGA Tour event – but only in an exhibition.

Lorena Ochoa

The Mexican will take on Juli Inkster, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak over 18 holes, then in a scramble and finally a betterball, the pairings are yet to be announced.

The Lorena Ochoa Match Play takes place in the first week of May and it will be Ochoa’s first time back playing in front of the cameras since her Invitational in 2012.

She retired in 2010, when ranked No. 1, to start a family. The 35-year-old, a two-time major winner, had her third child last year.

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