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Golf Tidbits: Stenson got hot at the right time

<p>The playoffs are all about riding the hot player.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The playoffs are all about riding the hot player.

In hockey, it's the hot goaltender. In football, it's the hot quarterback. In a singular sport like golf, normally you would ride the hot putter.

Henrik Stenson rode a hot driver and even hotter iron play to the biggest payday of his career.

Stenson ended the season seventh in driving accuracy and first in greens in regulation. When his driver, or 3-wood was off, his irons made up for it.

The Swede started his outstanding run of golf after sharing 21st at the U.S. Open. He posted seven top-10 finishes in his next nine starts, including six top-three finishes.

Stenson won the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago and on Sunday, polished off a victory at The Tour Championship. He did so combining a strong performances in key categories.

In the seven key stats kept by the Tour, Stenson finished in the top nine in five of them at East Lake. He shared the lead at the event for greens in regulation, placed third in strokes gained putting and tied for third in fairways hit.

Talk about having all facets of your game clicking at the right time.

Stenson posted four rounds in the 60s at East Lake en route to carding a total of 13-under-par 267. That moved him to 79-under par over his last 10 events.

That is remarkable considering he was 1-under par combined in three of those 10. That means Stenson went 78-under par over seven events, including a 35- under total in this two victories.

Those wins -- the Deutsche Banks and The Tour Championship -- led Stenson to victory in the FedExCup. He was the first European winner of the FedExCup and the first European to win The Tour Championship.

He picked up $11.44 million for The Tour Championship and FedExCup victories. His career PGA Tour earnings before that were just over $13 million.

Stenson put together four solid rounds of golf and in doing so nearly doubled his career earnings on the PGA Tour.

How he got to that point has many levels. He twice slumped badly and dropped outside the top 200 in the world rankings, but fought back both times.

Last year, he lost his longtime caddie, Fanny Sunesson, who was forced to retire due to a back injury. He overcame those hurdles, so what was one more?

Prior to the second round on Friday, he caved in the face of his fairway wood and was forced to play the round with one less club in his bag as he didn't have a replacement.

Not to worry. He shot a 4-under 66 in the second round and pushed his lead from one to four strokes.

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. Stenson pushed his lead to nine strokes on the front nine of round three. By the back nine of the final round, that margin was down to one.

The Swede never panicked, and birdied the par-5 15th to push his advantage back to three, as chaser Jordan Spieth bogeyed the 17th. Three clutch pars closed out the big win for Stenson.

Stenson rose to No. 4 in the world with the win. That is a long climb from the depths he fell to while going winless in 2010 and 2011.

There aren't many hurdles left for Stenson to concur.

SPIETH'S STELLAR SEASON

Former University of Texas standout Jordan Spieth started the year needing to Monday qualify for tournaments, or beg for sponsor invites.

Spieth ended the campaign by sharing second at The Tour Championship.

Along the way, he tied Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas for most top-10 finishes (nine) on the PGA Tour. Spieth earned his tour title at the John Deere Classic, which officially gave him tour status.

All the money, and FedExCup points, he earned prior to that win became official, and he locked up a spot in the Playoffs. He didn't rest on his laurels, either.

Spieth posted top-20 finishes in all four Playoff events as he broke par in 12 of the 16 Playoff rounds.

He also earned his first Presidents Cup nod as team captain Fred Couples picked Spieth with one of his two captains picks.

One can only wonder where Spieth will be at this time next year?

MINI-TIDBITS

* Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods are the nominees for the PGA Tour Player of the Year. Leaning toward Woods, but the vote will be very close.

* The Web.com final series concludes this week with 25 more players earning their PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season. Tough to tell who the bubble boys are at this point, but there will be plenty of players with sweaty palms in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

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