For all the incredible feats we saw in golf this year, one stands out above the rest. Really, it’s a collection of performances that led to an absolutely unprecedented accomplishment.
When Henrik Stenson won both the PGA Tour‘s FedEx Cup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, he became the first golfer to hold both tours’ season titles at the same time. Skyrocketing to third in the world rankings after a down year in 2012, it’s no stretch to say nobody saw the dominance coming, but the big question now is whether he can live up to the expectations that such success brings in 2014.
When you look at how Stenson did what he did, it would be easy to say no. Not only did he have that incredible run between the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship that saw him nearly win two majors and a World Golf Championship event, but he won two FedEx Cup playoff events and the DP World Tour Championship to really close the season out in style.
How he did it, though, is another story. On the PGA Tour, Stenson ranked at or near the top of almost every major statistical category, leading in greens in regulation and overall ball-striking, and finishing in the top 15 in par 3 and par 4 scoring. If he can keep his game in shape, another multi-win season certainly isn’t out of the question.
What could derail him in 2014? The biggest unknown is how he’ll deal with the pressure of being at the top of the golf world. Not only will he have to deal with the on-course pressure, but more of his time will likely be spent doing the media rounds and doing sponsor events. Not that that’s anything new for him, but being the guy everybody is targeting could take its toll.
In the end, I’m not prepared to call Stenson the runaway favorite for the 2014 season, with established superstars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and younger forces like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and more all vying for supremacy. If he stays healthy, however, you’d be a fool to think that the Swedish star is just a one-hit wonder.