Tour Championship 2013: Analyzing Most Underrated Subplots at FedEx Cup Finale
The Tour Championship capped off the 2013 PGA Tour season on Sunday at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club. Henrik Stenson emerged as the winner of the tournament and was also crowned the FedEx Cup champion.
Henrik Stenson: becomes 1st European to win FedExCup. Stenson: wins $10M bonus (goes in pension), along with $1.44M winner's check— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) September 23, 2013
Stenson's rise to No. 4 in the world rankings spurred by his brilliant play to close the year is among the greatest stories in recent memory in pro golf. However, there were several other twists to the tournament that may go unnoticed to casual observers.
No one remembers who finishes in second place most of the time—much less further down the list—but since golf is such an individual sport, it's worth examining those who sprinted to the finish in the finale.
Note: Statistics, information and video are courtesy of PGATour.com.
Steve Stricker Could Have Won FedEx Cup
The 46-year-old lived by the "less is more" mantra this season, competing in only three of the four majors and 13 events overall. He tied for second with 20-year-old prodigy Jordan Spieth at East Lake.
Sometimes getting away from the course for prolonged periods of time can make a golfer think less about technique and rely more on feel and experience to get the job done. That's presumably part of what allowed Stricker to finish third in the FedEx Cup despite a limited schedule.
Greg Norman praised Stricker for finding the Fountain of Youth:
@stevestricker Hey timeless wonder, for a guy semi retired what a gr8 yr. Well done u r an incredible example to the young players & golf— Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman) September 22, 2013
Who is likelier to win his first major in the next two years?
One has to wonder if "Mr. September" could have captured the postseason title, though.
Stricker elected to skip The Barclays, where he could have accumulated valuable points while the eventual FedEx Cup champion Stenson struggled to a tie for 43rd.
Even elite players such as Stenson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott played at least 16 tournaments apiece. With how well he played this year, perhaps Stricker had more in the tank than he thought from a physical and competitive standpoint.
Look for Stricker to increase his workload ever so slightly moving forward in the effort to win the FedEx Cup trophy and threaten for his maiden major title.
Dustin Johnson Rallies After Making Field on the Bubble
Instead of coasting through the last tournament and going through the motions, the man who hits the ball stupendous distances decided to make the most of being the last entry in the 30-man field.
Johnson had 19 birdies on the week, and if not for a triple-bogey on the par-four 17th in the final round, he was in line to finish second to Stenson.
The American made five birdies in total on the back nine but simply has to become more consistent. His skill set is similar to Stenson's, but Johnson must improve his distance control and capitalize better with shorter clubs in his hands.
Although ranking 130th in total putting isn't going to get it done for Johnson, his talent level is unquestionable:
Dustin Johnson hits a 368 yard drive on 9th hole at East Lake. Think about it. More than 3 1/2 football fields. #crazy— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) September 22, 2013
Having already won seven times in his 20s on tour, Johnson has all the makings of becoming a major champion in the near future. Perhaps this strong fifth-place result to close 2013—his second-best finish since March's Shell Houston Open—will spur Johnson to have a strong start to next year.
Webb Simpson Closes with Lowest Round of Tournament
The 2012 U.S. Open champion has yet to win since that major breakthrough, but he showed encouraging signs of progress in carding a magnificent seven-under 63 in the final round to close the Tour Championship.
Simpson went bogey-free and bolstered his final-round scoring average to 69.70 for the season, which ranks in the top 10 on tour.
None of Simpson's numbers look particularly bad. It's just that he hasn't scored very well, for whatever reason. His last top-10 finish before the Tour Championship had been at the Travelers Championship in late June, where he finished in joint fifth.
What's good news is that Simpson made 21 of 25 cuts and seems to be on the cusp of winning a lot more consistently if this final effort is any indication.
To finish in fourth against the most exclusive field in golf has to have Simpson feeling strong entering the Presidents Cup and the upcoming PGA Tour campaign.
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