Henrik Stenson capped off the best stretch of his career Sunday with the biggest payoff in golf.
Stenson held off a brief challenge by 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and closed with a 2-under 68 to win the Tour Championship by 3 shots over Spieth and Steve Stricker in Atlanta. The 37-year-old Swede also captured the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. Stenson earned $1.44 million for winning the tournament.
Stenson, who two years ago was outside the top 200, moved to No. 4 in the world.
Spieth left one lasting impression on his remarkable rookie season. The youngest player in Tour Championship history ran off four straight birdies on the back nine at East Lake and pulled within 1 shot of Stenson with his 10-footer on the 16th.
Spieth caught a buried lie in the bunker short of the 17th green and made bogey, while Stenson steadied himself with an 8-foot birdie on the par-5 15th to return his lead to 3 shots. Stenson only made it easy at the end with three pars — nearly holing out from the bunker right of the 16th green, hitting a scary shot from the right fairway bunker on the 17th to the middle of the green, and saving par from another bunker on the 18th.
Spieth closed with a 64, while Stricker had a 65.
Stenson, who finished at 13-under 267, became the first European to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
His amazing summer began with a tie for third in the Scottish Open. Stenson followed with a runner-up at the British Open and the World Golf Championship at Firestone, third place at the PGA Championship and a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The Tour Championship was his second win in three tournaments of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“Since the Scottish Open, it’s been just an incredible run,” he said. “I’m speechless. It was a tough day out there. To hang in there the way I did, I’m really satisfied. ... It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I had to fight hard mentally to keep all this aside, and I managed to do that. It’s going to feel better as the week goes on. I’m pretty sure about that.”
Tiger Woods, the No. 1 seed going into the Tour Championship, never recovered from his 73-71 start. He closed with a 67 to tie for 22nd, his worst finish ever at East Lake, and wound up second in the FedEx Cup. That still was worth a $3 million bonus.
Woods wrapped up the PGA of America’s points-based award for player of the year, and he captured the PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring title. Next up is a vote of the players for PGA Tour player of the year. He is the heavy favorite with five wins this year.
European PGA Tour
Julien Quesne of France made five birdies on the back nine to win the Italian Open in Turin, Italy by 1 stroke Sunday for his second European Tour victory.
The 33-year-old Quesne began the day 4 shots off the lead and looked out of contention when he double-bogeyed the second hole. But he got 1 shot back on the fourth, another at the sixth and then stormed home in 31 for a 5-under 67 at the Circolo Golf Torino.
Quesne, who is 81st in the season standings, finished the tournament at 12-under 276, 1 stroke ahead of David Higgins of Ireland and Steve Webster of England.
Quesne’s other win came at the 2012 Open de Andalucia.
Dan Greenwood of England holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole as Great Britain & Ireland rallied in singles to end the PGA Cup in a tie in Hexam, England. The trophy still goes home with the Americans because they were the defending champion.
Greenwood’s putt gave him a 1-up win over Matt Dobyns.
GB&I trailed by five points going into the final day at Slaley Hall. It won seven of the 10 singles matches and halved one to make up the deficit and forge only the fourth draw in 26 matches between club professionals.
The Americans still have a 17-5-4 record in the PGA Cup, and they have not lost it since 2005.