Sweden's Henrik Stenson is the man to beat in the FedEx Cup Playoffs entering the third stop of the series, but his preparation for Thursday's start of the BMW Championship hasn't been a smooth one.
Stenson, an amazing 22-under-par in winning the last tournament of the series in Boston, arrived in Chicago on Monday night after spending two days at his home in Lake Nona, FL. He arrived on schedule, but his suitcase got lost somewhere between the aircraft and baggage claim.
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"They found it two hours later and got it to me this morning, so at least I'm here in my own clothes," Stenson said.
Those clothes got sweaty fast in Tuesday's sweltering heat, leading to Stenson playing only the back nine holes. He'll get his first, and only, look at the full 18 in Wednesday's Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am. Then the chase for the $10 million bonus, paid out at the end of next week's Tour Championship in Atlanta, resumes.
Swenson passed a struggling Tiger Woods to claim the No. 1 ranking in the FedEx standings with his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston, Mass. Wood is No. 2 and Australian Adam Scott, winner of The Barclays -- the first event of the playoffs -- will play with Stenson in the first two rounds of the BMW Championship.
"I'm excited. I'm playing with two of the best in the world," said Stenson. "There won't be a motivational problem playing with Adam and Tiger, and I'll try my hardest to keep the boys behind me."
Stenson, 37, has had a roller-coaster career. In 2003 he was as low of 621 in the world rankings, but by 2009 he had climbed all the way up to No. 4 thanks in large part to a victory in that year's Players Championship.
Then, beset with health and financial problems, he dropped all the way to No. 230 before mounting another comeback. The downers in that period included bouts with viral pneumonia and a stomach virus that sent his weight plummeting and being the victim in a Ponzi scheme that led to jail time for financier Allen Stanford.
Stenson not only invested with Stanford Financial Group, the firm also was one of his sponsors -- and the episode will likely cost Stenson several million dollars.
"We'll see what the outcome is," he said, "but I had the biggest win of my career (The Players) three months after that (was revealed). The health stuff was tougher. Life has its up and downs. Whether it's the stock market or golf, there's going to be highs and there's going to be lows. We just move on."
Stenson has done that. When he won the South African Open last fall, he knew he was on the comeback trail again. He delivered a second-place finish at Houston in the spring to get himself into the following week's Masters. Then he took charge in golf's biggest money opportunity with his win in the Deutsche Bank two weeks ago.
"This has been the best season of my career so far," Stenson said. "I know when I'm on, I can compete. There were no magical potions -- just hard work."