Henrik Stenson claims Hero World Challenge


Henrik Stenson's late eagle helps him edge out Jon Rahm by a shot to claim the Hero World Challenge

A stunning eagle on the 15th hole helped Henrik Stenson to a final round 66 at Albany and a one stroke victory over defending champion Jon Rahm, finishing on 18-under-par. 

It proved to be the pivotal moment of the afternoon, the near-albatross helping him to six-under-par as he moved past Rahm to gain the outright lead while tournament host Tiger Woods faltered over the closing holes.

Stenson then consolidated his position at the top with three closing pars, including a lengthy two putt on the 18th for victory over the Race to Dubai champion.

"Very happy with the way I played today," Stenson said afterwards. 

The former Open Champion started one stroke behind overnight leader Gary Woodland, and opened up his final round with a before adding two more at the seventh and eighth to gain the lead on 15-under-par. 

Stenson then ran in to trouble off the tee at the ninth and he was unable to save par, which dropped him back to 14-under and tied with Tiger Woods, who recently claimed his 82nd PGA Tour win at the ZOZO Championship. 

The Swede recovered quickly with a birdie at the 10th to briefly regain the lead before an eagle at the 11th for Justin Thomas gave the American the advantage. 

But it was all change just a couple of holes later: As both Thomas and Woods faltered, Stenson made a birdie at the 13th, while Jon Rahm carded an eagle at 15 to jump in to the lead by one. 

Stenson then scrambled a par at the 14th, and followed it up with a 5-wood from 260 yards to just a couple of inches, letting him tap in for eagle to leapfrog Rahm and surge in to the lead by one. 

His final test of the day came at the 18th, but he expertly two-putted from over 40-feet to gain his first victory anywhere since the 2017 Wyndham Championship, and first top 10 since August.

“It’s been a very average season,” Stenson said afterwards, “but it finished on a high.”

Stenson also spoke about his fall in the world rankings over the past couple of years, having dropped to World No.40, and said he's targetting a return to the World's top 10.

“It’s down but it’s not disastrous,” he told the Golf Channel. “I’ve been top 10 in the world for five or six years straight, and that’s where I want to be. I feel like I’m playing to my potential. I can certainly compete with the best and I guess I showed that once again.”

Patrick Reed finished in third after carding three birdies in a row from the 15th, but the two-stroke penalty from his rules controversy in the third round proved too much to overcome. 

A dropped shot at the 14th left Woods in fourth place on his own at 14-under, while a final hole double-bogey from Justin Thomas saw him fall back to tied fifth place with Justin Rose on -13. 

There is no regular tournament next week, but 11 players in the Hero World Challenge field will be competing next week for the U.S at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.