ATLANTA (AP) ― Henrik Stenson knows better than most players how it feels to go from the depths of a slump to the elite in golf.
He’s done it twice now.
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. 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 to capture the FedEx Cup.
He walked away with $11.44 million ― $10 million for the FedEx Cup ($9 million of that in cash) and $1.44 million for winning the Tour Championship.
“It shows that I never give up,” Stenson said, 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 FedEx Cup 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 FedEx Cup, the highest ever for a rookie. He began the year with no status on any tour and finished at No. 10 on the PGA Tour money list, and No. 21 in the world.