A closing 66 at the Albany resort in Nassau saw Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, finish with an 18-under-par 270 total, winning by one from defending champion and new European No 1 Rahm, who signed off with the same six-under score.
Patrick Reed, who was docked a two-shot penalty for improving his lie in a sanded waste area in Friday’s third round, finished a shot further back, with tournament host Tiger Woods having to settle for fourth after his bid for a sixth title triumph in this event fizzled out on the back nine.
Stenson, who started the day a shot behind overnight leader Gary Woodland, was three-under through eight holes before running up a bogey-6 at the ninth. Woods had moved to the head of affairs after going out in three-under, but a level-par back nine was never going to get the job done for the 15-time major winner.
Rahm, who was trying to win his third event in a row after successes in the Spanish Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, sandwiched an eagle at the par-15th with birdies to raise his hopes of joining Woods as the only other multiple champion in this event.
However, Stenson hit a majestic 5-wood to four inches to match Rahm’s eagle at the 15th then closed with three solid pars to seal the deal. His new 3-wood came up trumps as he found the fairway at the last and, though his 7-iron approach came up 40 feet short of the hole, a brilliant first putt left him with a tap in for his first victory since the 2017 Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour.
“Very pleased with the day’s work and how the week worked out obviously,” said Stenson, who picked up a cheque for $1 million and is set to jump 14 places to 26th in the world rankings. “When you’re up against 17 top players like we were this week, it’s obviously an extra feather in the hat to come out on top.”
Rahm remains third in the global standings behind Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy. “It was the best year I’ve had,” he said of recording four victories in 2019. “I’m not going to give it a 10, but close to a nine out of 10.”
Reed, who accepted his penalty in the third round but claimed that it hadn’t been intentional when he brushed the sand twice with practice swings directly behind the ball, has found himself at the centre of a fierce backlash on social media since the incident.
“Honestly, I haven’t been paying attention on what’s been going on in the media,” he insisted after his strong final-day effort. “No,” he added to being asked if he was worried that it might harm his reputation in the game, “because I wasn’t intending to improve a lie or anything like that.”
On the back of his penalty under Rule 8.1a, a video surfaced of Reed doing something similar in this event in 2015. “Well, I haven’t seen the video, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you,” he added to being asked if he needed to be a bit more careful with his pre-shot routine.
Referring to some unsavoury stuff, including the fact he doesn’t speak to any members of his family, that surfaced when won The Masters in 2018, he went on: “I’ve dealt with enough media, I’m pretty good. There’s not really anything that’s going to be said or done that’s going to really derail me, especially next week (in the Presidents’ Cup).”
Reed was asked by Scotland on Sunday if he sometimes feels he gets a raw deal due to perceptions about him, having rubbed up the home fans the wrong way with his “shhhhh” gesture during the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“Of course I do,” he commented, “but you only can control what you can do, you can’t control everyone else. As long as I can go out there and do what I’m supposed to do and live life the way I feel like I’m supposed to live my life, that’s all I can control.”
While disappointed to fall short on this occasion, Woods will finish the year at No 6 - his highest end-of-year ranking in six years - after winning The Masters in April.