Henrik Stenson finished off what he called a “double-double” on Sunday. And who are we to say that isn’t the correct terminology? He’s the first player to ever accomplish the feat, and, for all we know, may be the last player to accomplish the feat, so he can call it whatever he wants.
The feat in question, of course, is winning the PGA Tour season-ending Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup title, then exactly 56 days later winning the European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship to claim the Race to Dubai title.
Yup, dude’s been so good that even his titles are bringing titles.
On the surface, it certainly looks and sounds and feels like a momentous achievement. But how momentous? Well, that’s a good question. The first guy to rub two sticks together and make fire probably didn’t understand the magnitude of his innovation. While the only connection between him and Stenson may be the fact that the latter now has money to burn, there remains some inquisitive head-scratching anytime someone breaks new ground.
Two years ago, Luke Donald was celebrated globally for becoming the first player to win money lists on both sides of the Atlantic – and for good reason. He held that honor for just 12 months, though, as Rory McIlroy equaled the mark last year, forever removing a little bit of the luster from Donald’s accomplishment.
That should serve as a slight warning when revving up the hyperbole machine after Stenson’s recent trophy haul, but it’s tough to not get overly excited at his self-proclaimed double-double.
It doesn’t mean he’s the world’s best player, nor does it even mean he was this year’s best player. Heck, he might not even the game’s most torrid player right now, considering Adam Scott has two wins in the past eight days.
What it does mean is that Stenson has excellent timing, playing the best golf of his life during the most financially beneficial weeks of the season, if not the most important.
“It is still taking a little time to sink in what I’ve achieved this week, as was the case when I won the FedEx Cup,” he said after a final-hole eagle clinched a six-stroke tournament victory. “Then, it just kept getting better and better as the days went on, and I am sure this will be the same.”
He deserves to enjoy the spoils. It’s been well chronicled already, but Stenson’s pair of titles serves as the culmination of a pair of comebacks, one professional and the other personal.
At one time a multiple Ryder Cup competitor with a World Golf Championship victory to his resume, he dropped from the game’s elite much quicker than he ascended into those ranks. After falling to 230th in the world, Stenson has built his game to the point where he now stands third and – if not more importantly, then at least symbolically – is having more fun playing the game, too.
“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,” he said. “It's just great to have been able to do that so many times this year. We're going to just keep on trying and putting ourselves in that position over and over again.”
As for the personal comeback, years ago Stenson reportedly lost much of his savings in the Stanford Financial scandal. While he’s maintained that his recent victory run wasn’t motivated by that situation nor should this be considered any type of karma, in the rich-get-richer world of professional golf, you’ve at least got to feel good for a guy winning huge sums of money who understands what it’s like to not have that.
Perhaps these are the stories we should most closely associate with Stenson’s double-double as opposed to any debate about what it means and where it ranks. But it’s only natural to dissect such new information by attempting to place it on a proverbial totem pole. And so we can safely contend that even though the feat is obviously rarer and more difficult to achieve than winning a major, it comes somewhere below that in the pecking order.
After that? Well, the future may determine just how impressive this was. Stenson may find his double-double forever remain as the lone multi-playoff accomplishment or – like Donald’s feat of two years ago – it may be equaled next season.
What we do know is that he’ll always be the first. As Stenson said afterward, “It's been a dream year, a dream summer for me. The season of my life.”