Article: PGA TOUR
And the second time was sweeter — and richer — than ever.
Not even among the top 200 players in the world two years ago, Stenson capped off the best three months of his career with a command performance Sunday in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola to earn his second victory of the FedExCup Playoffs and win golf's biggest prize — the FedExCup.
With a birdie to thwart a late charge by Jordan Spieth, followed by three pars from the sand, the 37-year-old Swede closed with a 2-under 68 on Sunday for a three-shot victory at East Lake.
"It shows that I never give up," said Stenson, who also moves to No. 4 in the world. "This is way beyond what I could have imagined."
Even with a four-shot lead, the final round was a battle. There were two trophies on display on the first tee. He knew he could still win the FedExCup even if he didn't win the TOUR Championship. Ultimately, he figured good golf would take care of everything, and it did.
Stenson became the first player to win the TOUR Championship wire-to-wire with no ties since Tom Watson in 1987, the first year of this 30-man showcase.
Spieth made him work for it.
The 20-year-old Texan left one last impression on his remarkable rookie season by running off four straight birdies on the back nine at East Lake to pull within one shot after Stenson went well over the 14th green and made his long bogey.
Stenson could hear the cheers and knew what he faced over the last four holes.
"I'm not just a pretty face. I can put 1-and-1 together," the Swede said with his dry humor.
He drilled a 3-wood into the fairway on the par-5 15th that set up an 8-foot birdie. Ahead of him on the 17th, Spieth was between clubs and chose to hammer a 9-iron that he caught heavy enough that it plugged in the front bunker. He made bogey and had to settle for a 64.
"I was just looking up and seeing that I needed more instead of being satisfied with what happened," Spieth said of his four straight birdies.
Spieth wound up No. 7 in the FedExCup, the highest ever for a rookie, which is even more impressive considering he started the year without status on any tour.
The last challenge came from Steve Stricker, who rolled in an eagle putt on the 15th hole to get within two. Stricker saved par behind the 16th green, and then missed two birdie chances from about 18 feet on the last two holes for a 65. He tied for second with Spieth.
Stricker didn't realize that making any of those last two putts would have been worth an extra $1 million for finishing second in the FedExCup. He only cared about winning, knowing he needed birdies and for Stenson to make a mistake.
"I knew the putt meant a lot. I didn't know it meant that much," he said with a smile. He finished third in the FedExCup and received a $2 million bonus.
Stenson, who finished at 13-under 267, became the first European to win the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup. He walked away with $11.44 million — $10 million for the FedExCup ($9 million of that in cash) and $1.44 million for winning the TOUR Championship.
His amazing summer began with a tie for third in the Scottish Open. Stenson followed with a runner-up at the British Open and the World Golf Championships-Bridgeston Invitational, third place at the PGA Championship and a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"Obviously, the work was done before," Stenson said. "It's not like I woke up in the middle of July and played fantastic."
The TOUR Championship was his second win in three tournaments of the FedExCup Playoffs.
"Since the Scottish Open, it's been just an incredible run," he said. "I'm speechless. It was a tough day out there. To hang in there the way I did, I'm really satisfied. … It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I had to fight hard mentally to keep all this aside, and I managed to do that. It's going to feel better as the week goes on. I'm pretty sure about that."