Stenson wins Hero World Challenge

Swede Henrik Stenson outlasted last year’s champion Jon Rahm, of Spain, to capture the 2019 Hero World Challenge title by one stroke at the Albany Golf Course in southwestern New Providence, The Bahamas, on Saturday.

This was his first professional win since winning the Wyndham Championship on the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) Tour in 2017.

Stenson finished the four-round event with a total score of 18-under par 270. Rahm’s final score was 17-under 271.

Stenson ended the fourth and final round with a score of six-under 66. That was his fourth consecutive round scoring in the 60s at the event. He was the only player in the 18-man field to score in the 60s in all four rounds. In the first round, he scored 69 and in the second round he finished with a score of 67. In the third round on Friday he finished with a 68.

Stenson finished second a couple times at the Hero World Challenge, and he said it feels good to finally come away with a win. He finished second in 2014 and again in 2016. For him, he said it is both technical and mental when he is playing.

“I think it’s always both, really,” Stenson said. “For me, of course—the confidence for me comes from me feeling like I’m in control of what I’m doing and then it’s easy to let go and trust what you’re doing when you’re struggling, not getting the results you want in terms of where the ball starts and which side spin it has. Of course, you’re going to feel a little more insecure and doubting what you’re doing. They kind of go hand-in-hand, but I can control myself when I need to.”

He added that it was mental on the back nine when he had some tough channels but stayed calm and saved himself when he needed to.

The Swede had an eagle on hole 15 in the final round that was key in him finishing one shot above Rahm. He birdied holes 1, 7, 8, 10 and 13.

Tiger Woods, tournament host, spoke about Stenson’s comeback, including a return to action from knee surgery.

“The way that Henrik has fought his way back, the countless hours he’s hit golf balls to figure it out, there aren’t a lot of guys who lose their golf swing and come back,” Woods said. “You can lose a putting stroke, change a grip and come back, but you lose a golf swing and he can’t find a map off the tee, that’s way harder to come back from. What he’s done, what he’s shown over his career, is very impressive, especially he’s in his 40s now and he’s worked very hard to get here.”

Rahm put up a valiant effort in his title defense effort as he also finished six-under par 66 on the day, and just one shot behind Stenson overall.

“Good performance, played really good tee to green, especially today,” Rahm said. “I just couldn’t get it going and I got a stretch of good putts over there on 14, 15, 16 to give myself a chance. I have made my share of long ones this week, especially on 15, but I can’t help to think a lot of those short ones I missed. I mean, either way, I mean, still really good score, 17-under par with a couple missed putts. Everything evens out.”

The stretch he refers to was an eagle on hole 15 and two birdies that came on holes 14 and 16 that brought him back. In addition to those, he also had birdies on holes two and nine. He was the only player in the field to have a bogey-free round, and that was the second time he did it. Rahm was the highest ranked player at the tournament, coming in at number three in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings.

Finishing third was American Patrick Reed with a total score of 16-under par 272. Reed led for the first two rounds before he shot a horrendous score of two-over par 74 to lose the lead at the end of the third round. He finished the fourth round with a score of six-under par 66.

Woods, a five-time winner of the tournament, finished fourth with a total score of 14-under 274. That placement was his best since finishing second in 2014.

In the final round on Saturday, Woods finished three-under par 69.

“It was a good solid week. golf-wise, it was a good solid week,” Woods said. “I wish I could have, as I said earlier, I wish I could have hit the ball a little bit closer. I had a few 9-irons on down I normally would hit in there a little bit closer than I did this week. If I would have given myself a few more looks, this might have been a different story, but I just didn’t.”

He finished the final round with four birdies.

Next up for Woods is the Presidents Cup set to get underway on Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia. He is the captain of the American team that will face an international side. The Americans have only lost one of the previous 12 Presidents Cup events.

The majority of the American team competed at the Albany Golf Course last week and left for Australia on Saturday night.

Stenson earned a one million dollar winner’s prize from the Hero World Challenge $3.5 million purse. He moves to eighth on the tournament’s all-time money list with a total of $2,785,500.50.

Rahm and Reed won $400,000 and $250,000 respectively. Woods earned $175,000.

As part of ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Dorian, the Hero World Challenge has contributed $184,500 to the ONE Bahamas Fund through a charity challenge to the players—a donation of $500 for each birdie, $1,000 for each eagle and $2,500 for each hole in one. The 18 players in the field made 337 birdies and 16 eagles over the four-day tournament.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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