Henrik Stenson won the Race to Dubai for the second time after a brilliant final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates confirmed his status as European Tour Number One.
The Open champion closed his season with a seven under par 65 in the DP World Tour Championship, which was won by Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick.
Stenson’s Race to Dubai success brought the curtain down on a season in which he became the first Swede to win a major with his triumph at Royal Troon in July and claimed an Olympic silver medal. That breakthrough major title along with his BMW International Open win in Germany and three other top two finishes helped Stenson top the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex ahead of Masters Champion Danny Willett.
Stenson’s victory in the Race to Dubai also secured an additional $1.25 million bonus from the $5million Bonus Pool awarded to the top ten at the season’s end.
Having previously won the Race to Dubai in 2013, Stenson becomes only the third continental European and 12th player in total to finish Number One on more than one occasion, joining the likes of Seve Ballesteros Bernhard Langer, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, and Sir Nick Faldo.
“I’m very pleased to get my name on this trophy once again,” said Stenson. “It’s been a great year, the best year of my career. I’ve always thought it was going to be hard to top 2013, but I think I’ve done that this year. Maybe not to the level of golf over six months, but certainly with the highlights of winning The Open, the Olympics and taking the Race to Dubai again. So it’s been a great year and it feels lovely to finish in this way.”
Having started his season with a second place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and joint third in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, it was not until June that he first tasted victory, winning the BMW International Open in Munich with a three-stroke victory at Gut Lärchenhof.
Buoyed by the confidence brought by winning, Stenson produced one of the greatest performances ever witnessed in an Open Championship to win the Claret Jug. Going toe-to-toe with Phil Mickelson, Stenson’s closing 63 broke a host of records including the lowest total to par in Open history and the lowest ever final round by a winner.
His 63 – a total matched by Mickelson on Thursday – equalled the lowest round in Major history and his 264 aggregate score was the lowest ever in a Major Championship.
From that moment Stenson and Willett, who made his own breakthrough with his Masters victory in April, were fighting for top spot on the Race to Dubai, with Stenson edging ahead after finishing joint second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and then holding the challengers at bay over the course of the Final Series.
Recalling the names on the Harry Vardon Trophy awarded to the European Tour Number One, Stenson said: “We’ve got Ballesteros, we’ve got Langer, we’ve got Faldo, and then of course in the later years, we’re more familiar with the names who won it; and Norman is on there. It shows a lot of history. To win it once is very satisfying and to win it two times is even more. It’s been a lovely season, and it is great to top it off like this.”