At one point in 2012, Henrik Stenson was ranked as low as 230th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He had just one top ten finish, missed three cuts, and just barely made the FedEx Cup playoffs, eventually getting eliminated after The Barclays.
What a difference a year makes.
Stenson’s performance at the TOUR Championship this past week was nothing short of inspired. That’s not to say it was always easy; four bogeys on the back nine of Saturday’s rainy third round made Sunday’s finale much more dramatic than it probably should have been. Still, he showed amazing determination and skill in holding off Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker in their bids to throw a wrench in his victory plans.
It’s that kind of work ethic and drive that has the Swedish veteran in the discussion for Player Of The Year honors. The voting for the top PGA Tour award takes place this week, and Stenson’s victory in Atlanta has him in elite company, joining Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods on the ballot.
He certainly has the qualifications to hold up: eight top tens in 18 starts, six of them in the top five, two wins, and second on the money list only to Woods. He led the tour in Greens In Regulation and was fourth in scoring average. Even though he had some off weeks in the early part of the season, his success from mid-summer through the end of the season commands respect from his (voting) peers.
“He’s played incredible,” Woods told USA TODAY this weekend. “From basically the British Open on, he’s basically put it together, and he’s played so consistently, while at a high level. He’s hit it great, made his share of putts, but he’s just been so consistent day in and day out. It’s good to see. He’s a good guy. We all like him.”
When the best player in the world is singing your praises after you soundly beat him, you’re doing something right. It’s tough to imagine that Stenson’s recent dominance will overtake Woods’s five wins or Mickelson’s victory at Muirfield, but he’s definitely done the work to deserve any awards that come his way.