Ten Million Dollar Man
Henrik Stenson has been the best golfer in the world for the last 4 months, and fittingly capped off his remarkable comeback with a wire to wire win at the season ending Tour Championship.
Stenson was at the top of his game and the golf world after winning The Player’s Championship in 2009. Unfortunately, a series of injuries and a lapse in his form saw him fall all the way to 230th in the World Golf rankings at the beginning of the 2012 season. Things had become so bad, that in 2011 he finished second…….in his home club’s Club Championship in Barseback, Sweden.
Amazingly, it was the second time in his career that the redoubtable Swede has come back from a slump in his game having done so after the 2002 season.
His resurgence began in earnest after he finished in a tie for second in March at the Houston Open. Since July however, Stenson has been playing golf at another level. He finished second in the Scottish Open before consecutive runner-up performances in the Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and then a 3rd place in the PGA Championship.
His consistency would pay off in the second of the four FedEx playoff events, as he beat a sterling field to win the Deutsche Bank Championship.
And then we were witness to the infuriating dominion of this pursuit. In last week’s third play-off tournament, the fiery Stenson became so unglued that he snapped the head off his driver playing the last hole on his way to a 33rd place finish. Stenson proceeded go into the locker room and perform “locker cabinet surgery” by attacking his locker at Conway Farms Golf Club, removing the door and smashing the shelves. Stenson has since apologized and paid for the damages.
And then came this week. After opening with a flawless 6-under par 64 that gave him the opening round lead, Stenson followed that up with an equally superb 66 in the second round to give him a 4 shot lead. At one point in Saturday’s third round, he would increase that lead to 9 before faltering slightly in the closing holes. He would finish with a 4 shot cushion entering Sunday’s final round.
A closing round of 68 would give Stenson a three shot margin of victory as he became the first European player to win both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. The Tour Championship is the fourth and final event of the FedEx Cup and rewards its winner 1.44 million dollars. The winners’ purse for the FedEx Cup is a staggering 10 million. Dollars that is.
The two players who finished second were the oldest and youngest players on the PGA Tour. 46 year old Steve Stricker, who is playing a reduced schedule in 2013, closed with a 5-under par 65, and 20 year old phenomenon, Jordan Spieth, was one better with a 64. In 13 events this year, the 46 year old Stricker has three second place finishes and seven top ten efforts. Remarkable for a “part time” player.
Spieth who has already won in this, his first year on Tour, is proving to be one of the best players in the world and will become the youngest player in the history of The President’s Cup when he plays for the US team next week.
But this week belonged to Stenson alone. He is a Quixotic mix of fire and ice. Subliminal on the one hand and so average the next. Perhaps he bespeaks the game that we all play as eloquently as any other and he openly conveys that what you once “have” today may be gone tomorrow. That if you expect certain things to be certain, that they will…..certainly change. That this grand endeavor, like Life itself, is not supposed to be mastered, but that we should all persevere, and once in a while, enjoy the ride.