Stenson hits the jackpot in Atlanta

9/22/2013 11:40:28 PM
Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson almost doubled his career earnings on the US PGA Tour in one tournament on Sunday, holding his nerve to become the first European winner of both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title.

Stenson carded a final round of 68 at East Lake to win by three shots from Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker and claim the first prize of $1,400,000 $10,000,000 FedEx Cup bonus.

The 37 year old Swede, who had won just over $13,000,000 before arriving in Atlanta, had led by nine shots midway through the third round but bogeyed three of his last five holes to take a four shot lead over Dustin Johnson into the final round.

And that lead was down to one when Spieth birdied four holes in a row from the 13th to go with the hat-trick of birdies he had carded from the seventh, with Stenson dropping his first shot of the day on the 14th.

However, Spieth then bogeyed the 17th when his approach plugged in a greenside bunker, and Stenson crucially holed from seven feet for what proved a decisive birdie on the 15th.

Stenson won his first European Tour title in 2001 but then went through the first of two career slumps, the second coming in 2011 and leaving him 230th in the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of last year.

Add in some serious health problems - one caused by a parasite picked up on holiday - and Stenson's form in 2013 is all the more remarkable, with a share of third place in the Aberdeen asset Management Scottish Open followed up by runners-up finishes in The Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, third place in the US PGA Championship and victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

That win in Boston lifted Stenson to the top of the FedEx Cup standings ahead of the BMW Championship.

Although Tiger Woods regained top spot as Stenson finished 33rd in Chicago, as one of the top five heading into Atlanta Stenson's destiny was firmly in his own hands.

The popular Swede, who was struggling badly with tendinitis in his wrist earlier in the week, had his hands on two trophies and an eight-figure dollar payday for a wire-to-wire triumph.

Spieth, who only turned professional in December 2012 but claimed his first US PGA Tour title in July at the age of 19, carded a closing 64, with Stricker returning a 65.

World Number One Woods carded a closing 67 to finish level par for the tournament and in a tie for 22nd place in the 30-man field.

Asked if his form this season was his best ever, Stenson said: "Absolutely no question.

"Since the Scottish Open it's just been an incredible run and I don't know what to say. I am speechless. The results I have produced and to hang in there - it was a tough day out there today - I'm really satisfied.

"The first two and a half rounds was incredible tee to green. I had a couple of hiccups on the back nine in the bad weather on Saturday and to be honest I didn't feel that confident with my game, I had to battle it a little today but I am very pleased and proud with the way I kept it together. To win both these trophies today feels unbelievable."

Speaking about his previous slumps, Stenson added: "It just shows one should never give up and always keep on trying harder. I managed to come back out of some bad slumps twice and that just shows always hang in there and try your best and good things will come your way eventually.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I had to fight hard mentally to keep all this aside and go out there and do my job and I managed to do that and this is going to feel better and better as the week moves on, I am pretty sure about that."