ATLANTA – It was a million-dollar putt for Henrik Stenson.
His lengthy birdie on the final hole of the Tour Championship was not what he envisioned when he came to East Lake Golf Club this week. No, that one would have been worth $10 million as the FedExCup playoff champion.
Stenson led the Tour Championship for the first 35 holes. However, he played second fiddle to Jordan Spieth for much of the final two days of the tournament, nipping at his heels but never re-taking a lead he lost on the 18th hole Saturday. Stenson slipped into a tie for fourth place after a double bogey on the 17th hole in Sunday's final round.
When he made a 57-foot birdie putt to conclude his competition, he moved into a tie for second place in the tournament and clinched second place in the FedExCup playoffs. With that he earned $3 million in playoff money, just ahead of Jason Day who had to settle for $2 million for third place. Stenson entered the week fourth in the standings.
"I came here wishing for a little bit better than what I left with," Stenson said.
Stenson shot a 2-over par 72 Sunday, his second consecutive such score, and 5-under for the tournament. He tied for second place with Danny Lee and Justin Rose for the Tour Championship, all three well behind winner Spieth and his 9-under tournament. Spieth also won the FedExCup title, a trophy and huge purse Stenson took home two years earlier.
Stenson began the day a stroke behind Spieth. Yet, the two would be tied after six holes following back-to-back bogeys by Spieth. Stenson gave those strokes right back when he bogeyed and Spieth birdied No. 8. Stenson would never get closer than those two strokes again.
Stenson thought he had a chance to pick up on stroke on No. 11 when he hit his approach close. Then he watched as Spieth rolled in a 60-footer to match his soon-to-be birdie.
There was little to say after that.
"I just said 'Great putt,'" said Stenson, who gave Spieth a fist bump and nod. "With him, you can't expect him to make it. He's 60 feet away and I'm like four feet away so you're feeling like you got a good chance to make up some ground. But he just poured that one in the middle. So it's fun to watch and just say well done."
Stenson bogeyed No. 12 after he and Spieth were put on the clock for slow play. But it was that double bogey on No. 17 that he laments. He blocked an 8-iron approach into the crowd and couldn't recover.
"Standing in between clubs on 17, I hit a block shank," Stenson said. "That's not really going to put pressure on anyone, more than myself. So that didn't work out.
"If there's one shot I want to have over this week, I would have gone back and gave it a bash with a 9 because that didn't work out."
Stenson added $618,750 in Tour Championship prize money to his total for a productive week in Atlanta. Stenson nearly won the FedExCup playoff without a PGA Tour win this season. He did finish as the runner-up in three of the four playoff events – the Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Tour Championship.
This article was written by Chris Vivlamore from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.