What's next for Henrik Stenson?
Henrik Stenson has reached the mountaintop of golf. How long can he stay there and what will he do next?
Henrik Stenson won the DP World Tour Championship (Europe's year-end event) in convincing fashion on Sunday with a final-round 64 that capped off a week in which he hit 68 of 72 greens in regulation.
Yes, 68 of 72 greens in regulation.
In doing so he became the first golfer to ever win both the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same year.
Ian Poulter, who finished second by seven (!) shots, said Stenson is on top of golf right now.
"You're witnessing the best player on the planet at the minute for sure," he said. "I don't think there's anybody to go up against him."
Stenson isn't satisfied, though.
If you were to ask European golfers what their career goals are as, say, 20-year-olds they would probably say the following in some order:
1. Win a major
2. Play on a Ryder Cup team
3. Win Race to Dubai
4. Win FedEx Cup
5. Become World No. 1
Stenson has accomplished Nos. 2-4 (and will likely play another Ryder Cup team in 2014) but Nos. 1 and 5 are still outstanding.
He spoke on Sunday about what a major would mean to him.
"I don't know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the majors and that would be the icing on the cake," he said.
He nearly won his first this year -- finishing second at the British Open and third at the PGA Championship.
There are other goals, too. Namely overtaking world No. 1 Tiger Woods. Stenson trails world No. 2 Adam Scott by .77 world golf ranking points and Woods by 3.33.
"Yeah, I'm certainly going to keep on trying. You know, it's going to take a lot of good golfing from where I am to reach No. 1. But I'm going to keep on trying. Like someone said, everyone that's won The Race to Dubai managed to be world No. 1 at some stage, so it wouldn't be fair not to try then, would it."
But how much better can Stenson get? The No. 3 ranking is his highest ever and he's 37-year-old (the same age as Tiger).
Nonetheless Stenson still says that despite a stretch at the Tour Championship in September that was his best stretch of golf ever, he still has room for improvement.
"I think the display on the front nine the first round of the Tour Championship in America was pretty spectacular. That's probably the most or the closest number of shots that I've hit so close to the pin in a nine-hole stretch. It was inches, feet away, with 5- and 6-irons."
"It's all about just getting out of bed and keep working away and trying to be better. Sometimes you improve but it doesn't necessarily means that your results are going to improve over a period of time."
And of course Stenson said he wants to be on Paul McGinley's side when the Ryder Cup hits Gleneagles in October 2014.
"No, I mean, that's one of my big goals, of course, it was to try and get some points on the board early for The Ryder Cup.
"Some of my greatest moments in my career is part of The Ryder Cup in '06 and '08, and then I stood out twice. So I was always going to try hard to make it back on the team for Gleneagles and it seems like if we are not cemented, we are pretty close to it. It's going to be a great experience again and really looking forward to it."
Like Poulter said, Stenson is the best player in the world right now, despite what the rankings tell me.
There's seemingly nothing he can't accomplish, but these things fade quickly. Just ask Rory McIlroy, or heck, ask Stenson himself -- he was ranked in the 200s at the beginning of 2012, just under two years ago.
Contrary to what we sometimes believe, the good times do not go on forever and the party does, at some point, end.
But that end doesn't seem to be coming quickly for Stenson who has gone through all the valleys professional golf offers.
He's on the mountaintop right now and he knows it.
"To be able to come back this year like I've done and play so many good rounds and so many good tournaments; and enjoying the golf the way I've done this year and being up there in the big events where it's tense and a bit of nerve and all the rest of it; that's what we practice and play for."
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