Stenson - The Comeback Story of 2013
Post from Sports Writer Derek Clements
That was the year that was, and wasn't it something else. Whoever would have thought that we would finish the 2013 golf season lauding the achievements of Henrik Stenson.
It is impossible to fully appreciate the mental strength possessed by Stenson, the Swede who has just won the Race to Dubai, to add to his stellar triumph in the FedEx Cup.
Nobody has achieved this feat before, and it is hardly surprising. Apart from Tiger Woods, who is a special case, no golfer in recent times has managed to maintain his form over such a sustained period, contending week after week for the sport's biggest prizes. Make no mistake about it - it requires far, far more than a good golf game to achieve what Stenson has.
We already knew that he had rediscovered his best form, having been in the depths of despair not so terribly long ago. But he moved to a new level in the second half of 2013. What he has demonstrated on an almost weekly basis since July is a mental fortitude that compares with the best ever to have played the game. The effort it takes to maintain his level of performance should never be underestimated.
It is worth reminding ourselves of his astonishing run. He finished third in the Scottish Open, second in The Open, second in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, third in the PGA Championship, 43rd in the Barclays, winner of the Deutsche Bank championship, 33rd in ther BMW championship, winner of the Tour Championship (and the $11m FedEx Cup), 34th in the BMW Masters, 31st in the WGC HSBC Champions, seventh in the Turkish Open and winner of the Dubai World Championship.
He should have been exhausted when he flew into Dubai and was nursing a wrist injury that, under any other circumstances, would have seen him withdraw from the Dubai World Championship.
Instead, he was inspired by the possibility of becoming the first man ever to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season. With Ian Poulter breathing down his neck, Stenson opened with scores of 68, 64 and 67 to go into the final round one shot ahead of Victor Dubuisson.
He couldn't go on and win the tournament, could he?
Had Poulter, who started the day four behind his rival, been offered a final round of 66, the chances are that he would have jumped at it. And that is what he scored.
But not only was it not good enough, he finished the day even further behind Stenson than he had been at the start. The Swede, in complete control of his game, had three birdies in the first five holes and finished with a stunning eagle three for a round of 64 and a six-stroke victory.
Stenson and Poulter had struck a wager before the Final Series began. Stenson gave Poulter odds of 10/1 that he could not catch him and win the Race To Dubai. Poulter wagered $1,000, and did everything he could to catch Stenson.
The Swede's victory means that he becomes the first man to win the FedEx Trophy and the Race To Dubai. Having lost a huge portion of his savings to Allen Stanford, the conman now serving 110 years in jail, his winnings this season alone give him financial security for the rest of his life.
He has won three huge tournaments this year and is now firmly established as the world's third-ranked golfer. Stenson will now attempt to relax, and hope that when he returns to competitive action in 2014 the magic is still there. If it is, there is no reason that he cannot add a major to his resume. He is already a shoo-in for the European Ryder Cup team, and there will be players queueing up to partner him at Gleneagles.
“It took a little time to sink in when I won the FedEx, and it just kept on feeling better and better as time went on and I'm sure this will be the same,” said Stenson, who has staged a remarkable comeback since falling out of the top 200 in the Official Golf World Ranking in early 2012. “I have managed to achieve something very special here this week.“To get the double?double, winning the Tour Championship on both the tours, that's going to take some beating in the future. It's been a dream year, a dream summer for me, and the season of my life.“I’m just very, very pleased with the way I played. I knew it was going to be a tough week and I knew the guys were going to keep on charging and trying to catch me. Being in the lead, you want to play solidly and not make any silly mistakes. I had a couple of really good iron shots early in the round to set up three birdies in the first five holes.“It was blowing pretty hard with a lot of sand in the air on the back nine. I was just trying to hit fairways and greens and make pars coming in.”
Henrik, we doff our caps to you. What an achievement - the comeback story of 2013, without a doubt.
Photo Credit: TourProGolfClubs.com
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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