Tour Championship 2013: Henrik Stenson's Dominance Proves Star Has Staying Power
Henrik Stenson carries a four-stroke lead into the final round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta after a one under par round of 69 on Sunday.
Even if the world No. 6 somehow blows that favorable cushion—and if his play so far is any indication, he won't—he has still established himself as a bona fide superstar and will win the FedEx Cup title regardless.
The dominance Stenson has displayed over the past several months proves that his career renaissance is for real, and he's here to stay as a legitimate contender for the foreseeable future.
Henrik Stenson's last 8 worldwide starts: combined -63, 24-of-30 rounds par or better, 5 top-3's (1 win). Leader by 4 at @playofffinale— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) September 20, 2013
At East Lake, the 37-year-old Swede has put all parts of his game together. He ranked first in greens in regulation, tied for second in driving accuracy and second in strokes gained putting.
Even though he bogeyed three of his last five holes in the third round, he was able to hang tough enough to maintain a commanding advantage on the rest of the elite, 30-player field that occupies the PGA Tour season finale.
It takes getting into the top five in the point standings to control one's own destiny at the Tour Championship, and that's something Stenson was able to do.
He was second only to Tiger Woods entering this event, courtesy of a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which was the culmination of a lot of hard work and close calls in high-profile tournaments preceding that.
Stenson finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson at the Open Championship and was third at the PGA Championship, each time falling victim to a virtuoso performance by the victors in Lefty and Jason Dufner.
This week, it's been Stenson's turn to see all the parts of his game come together against the very best competition.
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
Demons with the flat iron have prevented Stenson from winning more frequently when he's at the top of his game. The launch angle Stenson gets on the ball, along with his straight-as-an-arrow accuracy no matter what club is in his hands, makes him a dangerous challenger anytime he tees it up.
If Stenson can just manage to sink a few more putts as he has at East Lake, the ceiling for him is limitless even at this relatively late juncture of his career.
Some may remember when Stenson won the World Golf Championship match play event in 2007 and rose to the world's elite. After a triumph at the 2009 Players Championship, he ascended to a career best—No.4 in the world rankings.
A severe slump followed thereafter. Stenson dipped as low as 230th in the world.
Part of that can be attributed to a volatile temperament, but at least he has a sense of humor about it—even though it pops up occasionally even in these current winning days:
Henrik Stenson was asked how he went from winning to breaking clubs so quickly: "I'm guessing you don't have much experience with Swedes."— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 19, 2013
The resilience it took Stenson to bounce back from his fall from grace in the game, along with the fact that he's playing the best golf of his career now, proves that this star has staying power.
Who will win more majors in the next three years?
In a virtual must-win situation this week, Stenson came to play in a big way, while Woods has slid to a tie for 26th.
The more Stenson closes the deal in tournaments, the more dangerous he'll become. Look for him to not only walk away with the FedEx Cup, but to also be the most talked-about golfer with regard to the 2014 major championships.
Those are still a while off in the future, but among those who have never won one, Stenson has to be the prohibitive favorite to win his maiden title after his 2013 display.
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