Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Henrik Stenson pleased to be back at Valspar Championship

Henrik Stenson, teeing off during a tie for 28th at Doral last week, was one shot out of a three-way playoff at last year’s Valspar Championship.

Getty Images

Henrik Stenson, teeing off during a tie for 28th at Doral last week, was one shot out of a three-way playoff at last year’s Valspar Championship.

PALM HARBOR — As the defending champion and the top ranked golfer in the world, Jordan Spieth is sure to get most of the attention this week at the Valspar Championship. But the next highest-ranked player in the field, No. 7 Henrik Stenson, should not be overlooked.

Stenson finished in fourth place at last year's tournament, one shot out of the three-way playoff between Spieth, Patrick Reed and Sean O'Hair. He also sandwiched a fourth-place finish at Doral and second place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational between Valspar.

It was his first time playing the Copperhead Course. He liked last year's tournament so much that he sat out the WGC Match Play tournament in two weeks in order to return here.

"I can't say I'm coming in with the same great finish I had at Doral that I had last year," said Stenson, who finished tied for 28th at Doral last week. "I might have to work a little bit more on my game this week. I think it's a good golf course for me. I played it for the first time last year and got to hit some good iron shots into the green. We'll see if we can have a similar experience this year."

Stenson is playing in only his fourth tournament this season. He had surgery on his right knee in early December and didn't play until Jan. 19 at the Dubai Desert Classic.

First-timer: Like Stenson last year, Danny Willett is a top-ranked player who put Innisbrook on this year's schedule for the first time when he received a sponsor's exemption. Willett, 28, is 11th in the world golf rankings. He finished tied for third last week at Doral. He also tied for third earlier in the year at the WGC HSBC Championship.

Willett, who is from Sheffield, England, is currently a member of the European Tour. He is close to earning enough FedEx Cup points to become a full time PGA Tour member — and it's only March. A decent showing this week would solidify his Tour card. But even a bad showing wouldn't hurt his chances.

"This is really an added bonus for me," Willett said. "We're just going to try to get some more FedEx points to secure a PGA Tour card. After what we did last week we're almost there. So I look at this as kind of a free week. It doesn't affect us either way, whether it's a great week or a rubbish week. It's all about enjoying ourselves this week."

Chip-ins: The two highest-ranked players in the field are paired together for the first two rounds. Spieth (No. 1) and Stenson (No. 7), along with Bill Haas, tee off at 8:07 a.m. on the 10th tee Thursday. … Vijay Singh, who won the 2004 championship, is the oldest player in the field at 53. He is showing no signs of slowing down. Singh has made four of six cuts this season and was tied for sixth at the first Florida stop (Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens) two weeks ago.

Today: There will be a morning and afternoon pro-am. Morning rounds begin at 7 a.m. The afternoon rounds begin at 11:50 a.m. Some notable players include former champions Gary Woodland (7:20 a.m.), Sean O'Hair (7:30 a.m.) and Luke Donald (7:50 a.m.), defending champion Spieth (11:50 a.m.) and Ernie Els (1:50 p.m.).

Henrik Stenson pleased to be back at Valspar Championship 03/08/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  2. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  4. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.