The FedEx Cup and The Race to Dubai represent the PGA Tour and European Tour’s best. Can one person capture them both?
After a less than impressive reputation to start, the FedEx Cup has gained momentum over the past few years. From its conception in 2007 until now, it has slowly grown into one of a golfer’s crowning achievements in his golf career.
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Each year the winner represents the year’s most consistent golfer and probably the best player on the PGA Tour in that given year. Add in a $10 million paycheck to the winner, and you’ve got a trophy that everyone wants to win.
It requires not only tournament wins throughout the season but also consistent finishes near the top of the leader boards. Golfers need to rack up as many points as they can so they can continue to climb the FedEx Cup standings.
Towards the end of the season, in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, climbing spots become crucial as in the first three weeks of the playoffs the field slowly dwindles before the top 30 golfers move to the final at the Tour Championship.
On the other hand, the European Tour has its own competition at the season’s conclusion called the Race to Dubai. With a similar format to the FedEx Cup, although its current iteration is a recent addition, the Race to Dubai boasts many more years of history overall. The European Tour’s season culmination began all the way back in 1971 when Peter Oosterhuis claimed its inaugural title then as the traditional Order of Merit.
It says a lot for a golfer who was able to claim both trophies in one year and even just capture them both in their whole career. It may not be considered a major but it represents a significant win for a golfer’s career.
Only one person has won both and it came in the same year. In 2013, Henrik Stenson played an incredible season to capture both the FedEx Cup and, then just weeks later, the Race to Dubai. Now granted, given how young the FedEx Cup is compared to the Race to Dubai, there hasn’t been much time for someone to notch both titles but that doesn’t diminish the feat.
In order to capture the FedEx Cup, Stenson used some late season magic. He was dominant down the stretch as he was the hottest golfer on tour. With a winless start throughout the early part of the year, his best finish in the first half of the season came at the Wells Fargo Championship when he finished in second place to add 250 points to his FedEx Cup total.
The Swede added a few other top ten finishes as well as just two missed cuts. However, the real heavy lifting came in his final seven tournaments of the season. He finished in the top five in five of those seven tournaments, including two wins.
Stenson finished in second at the Open Championship and then just weeks later added a third place finish in the year’s final major, The PGA Championship. His wins came when the most points were on the line in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Stenson added 2,000 points to his total with his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship in the second week of the playoffs and then wrapped up his FedEx Cup championship with another 2,000 points in final week of the playoffs at the Tour Championship.
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His 2013 Race to Dubai Championship was equally as impressive as he again turned it on down the final stretch of the European Tour season. He he had two top-35 finishes at the BMW Masters and the WGC-HSBC Championship. Then in the final two tournaments, he captured the most points. At the Turkish Airlines Open, he finished in a tie for seventh place. Finally, in the year’s final tournament, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, he finished on top of the leader board to secure his Race to Dubai title.
This year, Stenson put himself in position to repeat the feat but injury ultimately sidelined him. A knee injury forced him to withdraw from the first week of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, The Barclays. After playing through pain in the Deutsche Bank Championship and skipping the BMW Championship to rest that knee, Stenson fell out of contention and failed to qualify for the Tour Championship.
The 2016 FedEx Cup is out of reach, but Stenson still has a shot for another Race to Dubai title. He currently sits in second place behind Danny Willet.
Although Stenson can’t repeat the feat of winning both in a season, there is one golfer who does have that chance and his name is Rory McIlroy. In the FedEx Cup, McIlroy is currently sitting in sixth place heading into this week’s Tour Championship. McIlroy still has a chance to capture it if he wins this week and Dustin Johnson finishes tied for second or worse.
In the Race to Dubai, McIIroy sits right behind Henrik Stenson in third place. If he wins, it will become his fourth title. He has won the Race to Dubai in 2012, 2014, and 2015. If he wins both, he’ll be just the second person to do so.