5 Things: Stenson's break-up, and When Rory Met Danny
1. Stenson and the inspiration for his Open win
Forget all the guessing games about Tiger Woods and his back spasms, the best story of last week came on the European Tour website via Sport360. The name Mike Gerbich probably won’t mean too much to you but the former captain of the Emirates Golf Club was one of the big inspirations behind Henrik Stenson’s incredible Open win last July. The pair became good friends when Stenson moved to Dubai and Gerbich ended up organising his bachelor’s party and being a guest at The Masters.
Stenson knew his good friend was struggling with cancer as he arrived in Scotland and, on the Wednesday morning of Open week, Gerbich sadly died. The Swede posted a picture of them playing in a pro-am in Dubai and one message read “Go and win the Open for Mike.”
Which he did, in spectacular fashion.
“That’s really when it struck me. I told myself that I was going to try my hardest. That kind of became the purpose of my week. To then have the outcome that we finally had, was very, very special.”
You’ll likely remember that on the Sunday night Stenson made a point of mentioning his good friend in his winner’s speech.
“When I said I felt his presence throughout the week, I really meant it. I definitely had a few short talks with him out on the course. If I hit a bad shot, I would have been upset with myself. But I did not let that happen that week, because I was playing for him. I did not want anything to interfere with the mission.”
2. Stenson again… and he’s split up with his 3-wood
If you thought it was good publicity to have a player (basically a Nike player) use your equipment (basically a TaylorMade driver) then this is as good as it gets for Callaway.
Henrik Stenson’s 2008 Callaway Diablo Octane (pictured) is generally known in the game as the biggest weapon of mass destruction as he regularly nuts it 300+ and past most players’ drives. It’s also, and imagine this being important, arrow straight.
But now, after his best ever season, the Open champion bids farewell to his trusty ‘strong 3-wood’ (it’s around 12.5˚) in favour of the Callaway Epic 3-wood.
It’s the same old Grafalloy Blue shaft but with more loft (15˚). If it stays in the bag – Stenson’s first week with it ended in a second place in Dubai – then we’ll all be trying to get our hands on one.
3. When Rory met Danny
It’s fair to say Danny Willett was relatively unknown in his early days as an amateur, so much so that Rory McIlroy didn’t even know the Masters champion ahead of their first-round clash in the British Amateur at Lytham.
Speaking on the brilliant No Laying Up podcast, McIlroy recalled the time he first came up against the Sheffield teenager.
McIlroy breezed through the two-round strokeplay part and then found himself facing a firing Willett who was six-under after just seven holes.
“I was like, ‘Daniel Willett? Never heard of him. He should be easy. I actually ended up making a little bit of a comeback, but he beat me, 2 and 1,” McIlroy said. “I was like, ‘This guy’s actually pretty good.’”
The pair then reconvened later in the year as Walker Cup team-mates.
4. Poults joins up with Cowen
Who wouldn’t want to work with Pete Cowen?
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) February 3, 2017
Work to do… this was actually Poulter’s last shot of the day. He came back the following morning and got up and down for a par!
Another day, another shank at @OmegaDDC ?
Exhibit: Ian Poulter pic.twitter.com/P6SgyAu9Tf
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 3, 2017
5. Down in three for DC
No offence and all that but when you think of a Tour player and the old hosel rocket then Darren Clarke is never too far from our thoughts…
Shank you very much! pic.twitter.com/kVk9OjhGU5
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 2, 2017
After hitting this pearler – he actually got up and down from the sand – he got a bit of abuse from a journalist Robert Lusetich.
He tweeted: “He’s beating 2 guys (and both have played more holes). Real question is if he can beat @DarrenClarke60.”
Clarke then had the last laugh.
How many Claret Jugs have you won??? ?end! https://t.co/ugWK7Dff6C
— Darren Clarke (@DarrenClarke60) February 2, 2017
Lusetich didn’t reply.