With a final round 64, Swede Henrik Stenson became the first ever player to win the season-ending finale of the European Tour, the World Tour Championship in Dubai, as well as the lucrative end of season FedEx Cup in the United States.
In doing so, Stenson confirmed himself not just as the top player on both the European and US Tours, but confirmed that over the past six months, no golfer has been able to match his run of blistering form.
Yet at the start of 2012, Stenson was ranked 230th in the world and things looked very different.
Indeed, it is somewhat strange that his return to the golfing greats should be heralded by a failure. In the 2012 Masters, Stenson held the lead in the Masters with a 6-under first round score, but a quadruple bogey on the 18th, the joint-highest score ever on the hole, ruined what was otherwise an exceptional round.
Rather than destroy the Swede, it only served to spur him on as he began to climb the rankings once again in the same slow, methodical, metronomic style that he displays on the golf course. That culminated in his first win on any tour since 2009, with a 3 stroke victory at the 2012 South African Open.
The fireworks however didn’t really begin until spring of 2013 when Stenson finished 8th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational followed by a 2nd place in the Shell Houston Open and in May, he finished 5th in The Players Championship at Sawgrass, a competition he had won previously in 2009.
Stenson’s season came to life however when he finished 3rd and 2nd in successive weeks at the Scottish and British Open, both times Phil Mickelson winning the top prize. Stenson then recorded another 2nd place finish at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational before finishing 3rd in the final Major of the year, the USPGA Championship.
Moving into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Stenson was arguably now the form player to watch, having won nearly two million dollars on the US Tour in a three week spell.
He finished a disappointing 43rd in the Barclays, but then played brilliantly to win the Deutsche Bank Championship earning himself another $1.4m payday. A 33rd place finish in the BMW Championship saw him qualify for the Tour Championship where he confirmed his position as the best player on the US Tour winning the $1.4m top prize plus a $10m bonus for winning the FedEx cup overall.
Not satisfied with that, Stenson then came to Europe to attempt victory in the Race to Dubai, he finished 34th in the BMW Masters, 31st in the WGC HSBC Champions and 7th in the Turkish Airlines Open to put himself in prime position.
In a real see-saw battle with Ian Poulter, Stenson finally saw off the tenacious Brit on the final day, shooting an impeccable 64 to win both the World Tour Championship event and the Race to Dubai trophy.
Stenson has called this the “double double” in that he won both the final events and overall competition on the US and European Tours in the same season. A feat that has never been achieved before.
While other golfers may have had similar bursts of form, what is impressive about Stenson’s run is that he has shown it across some of the golfing world’s biggest event and in two season-ending showpiece events.
His form has seen him rise from 230th in the world at the start of 2012, to 3rd currently and Stenson has confirmed that he now has Tiger Woods spot at the top of the rankings in his sights.
The Swede has also confirmed that while he isn’t sure how he’ll be able to top this season, he will be focusing strongly on landing his first Major in 2014.
However before then, Stenson faces an operation on a wrist injury that has troubled him over the last few weeks. The Swede is likely to take some time off for the operation and to recover before the 2014 season tees off in earnest.
So will Stenson win his first Major in 2014? Given his form over the last six months, that seems a good bet, however much will depend on whether the Swede can maintain his form into 2014, and how speedily he recovers from his wrist operation.
The question will also be asked which event Stenson will most likely have the best chance at, the 2014 Open Championship at Hoylake, an event where Stension has finished third twice and second once, looks a good choice.
So will Stenson be number 1 by the end of 2014? Will Tiger have remained on top of the world, will Rory McIlroy rediscover his best form, or will another superstar like Adam Scott or Phil Mickelson be the top dog?
Much will be decided over the coming 12 months, but if Stenson can repeat anything like his form over the last six months throughout 2014, the answer to that question will be a mere formality.
Images courtesy of Henrik Stenson’s Official Facebook Page