Henrik Stenson is in a commanding position to win the FedEx Cup, as he maintained the four-stroke lead he began Saturday's third round with at the 2013 Tour Championship.
The Swede entered the PGA Tour postseason finale second in the point standings, and even a lackluster final round will likely net him a victory at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club and the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.
Henrik Stenson has earned $13,072,285 in his PGA Tour career. A win this weekend would net another $11,440,000.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) September 20, 2013
American star Dustin Johnson is Stenson's closest competition, and he entered the 30-player field at East Lake right on the bubble at No. 30. If the tournament were to end after 54 holes, even a runner-up finish by Johnson would only put him in seventh place in the FedEx Cup point standings.
Tiger Woods was leading in points over Stenson, but he collapsed in the second round, finishing six over par on his last five holes. He made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 in Round 3 to shoot 69 and get to plus-three—tied for 26th.
It seems that Stenson winning is rather inevitable, but here is a projected final standings in points when the playoffs wrap up on Sunday, followed by analysis as to why the outcomes will happen.
Note: Statistics, information and video are courtesy of PGATour.com. Fluctuations in points were determined based on point values of current Tour Championship positions and PGATour.com's projections, which can be found here.
|Position||Player||Projected Total Points|
|29||Brendon De Jonge||463|
Stenson Wins Tour Championship, FedEx Cup Title
With the way Stenson is striking the ball, his lead is going to be insurmountable. He did bogey three of the last five holes in Saturday's round of 69, but that's not enough to discourage picking him as a winner.
In the midst of that stretch, the typically shaky putter steadied when Stenson made a key par save from 15 feet away at the par-four 17th hole:
If the pressure is getting to him, Stenson is certainly not showing it. As Golf Channel's Jason Sobel highlights, neither Woods nor world No. 2 Adam Scott could touch him this week in Atlanta:
Henrik Stenson has played 18 holes with each of the world's two top-ranked players this week. He's beaten 'em by a combined 14 strokes.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) September 21, 2013
This would mark Stenson's second win in three tournaments after he heavily contended in the year's final two majors and finished joint runner-up at the WGC-Bridgesteone Invitational.
All signs point to him getting it done. Stenson leads the field in greens in regulation percentage (79.63), is second in strokes gained putting and tied for second in driving accuracy. That combination will prove too much for his fellow competitors to overcome.
Steve Stricker Pulls Ahead of Woods for 2nd Place in Standings
Who deserves the Player of the Year Award if Henrik Stenson wins the FedEx Cup?
A lighter schedule produced wonderful results for Stricker this season, and his nickname of "Mr. September" for his FedEx Cup consistency will hold true yet again.
However, the 46-year-old star may regret skipping out on The Barclays, where he could have accumulated valuable points while Stenson finished tied for 43d in the playoff opener.
The deficit in points is irredeemable unless Stricker somehow rallies back and bests Stenson, which doesn't seem likely in the least. Stricker, despite standing alone in third at the moment, has yet to put together a consistent round in this tournament.
A second straight runner-up finish at East Lake will give him a handsome paycheck, but it won't add to his trophy case.
Stricker has had a fantastic career, though a truly huge victory in a major or a FedEx Cup title is still absent from his resume—both of which he's capable of capturing but hasn't to date.
Jordan Spieth Will Sneak Inside FedEx Cup Top 10
The mortal lock for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year currently sits in a tie for fourth, but he has shown a flair for the dramatic in final rounds recently.
To put an exclamation point on his season, Spieth will break away from the pack of his talented peers at minus-four and ascend to a third-place finish behind Stricker. Those points will be enough to get him into the top 10 in points, where he's projected to finish 11th.
Spieth is only 20 years old and didn't have any status on tour entering the season. However, he's capitalized on sponsor's exemptions and special invitations to earn his way into this event.
Jordan Spieth's remarkable rise is truly one of the great stories of 2013. Youngest ever participant at the Tour Championship #PGATour— Kieran Clark (@OnParWithGolf) September 21, 2013
In his breakthrough win at the John Deere Classic, he fired a final-round 65 and beat BMW Championship winner Zach Johnson in a playoff. That score was replicated by Spieth at the Wyndham Championship, where he lost in extra holes to Patrick Reed.
At the Deutsche Bank Championship, Spieth closed with a scintillating 62, capped off by an eagle:
Look for more fireworks, as he'll have to be aggressive if he has any hope of making up the seven shots of ground on Stenson.