Stenson claims 2nd race to Dubai title

Henrik Stenson of Sweden poses with his trophy after winning the Race to Dubai at the end of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, on Nov 20, 2016.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden poses with his trophy after winning the Race to Dubai at the end of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, on Nov 20, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Swede tops rankings after Willett goes off the mark, Fitzpatrick wins Tour Championship

DUBAI • Sweden's Henrik Stenson won the European Tour's Order of Merit for the second time yesterday, after none of his challengers could usurp his position on the final day of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The title caps a special year for the 40-year-old, who claimed his maiden Major title at the British Open in July as well as a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in August.

"It's been an amazing year. I didn't think I was going to be able to top 2013 but I think, as a whole, I think I have done that," he said, referring to the year of his first Race to Dubai win.

He added that, while he had not played consistently throughout the year, "at the right times I've played some great golf."

Stenson finished the tournament in some style, carding a seven-under 65, which included a run of five birdies in the opening seven holes, and one on the final hole.

"I felt like if I was going to be crowned Europe's No. 1, I might as well play some golf the last day, and I certainly did that," said the Swede, who totalled 276 for the tournament.

His performances up until midway through day three had opened the door for one of his rivals for the money-list title to potentially sneak ahead, but a string of birdies on the back nine on Saturday teed him up to stamp his authority on proceedings early on day four.

Ultimately, Stenson's main challenge on the final day came from the man with the smallest chance of overtaking him - world No. 2 and last year's Order of Merit winner Rory McIlroy.

Needing to win the Dubai tournament, which would also give him the world No. 1 spot, and Stenson finishing near the bottom of the field, McIlroy had left himself too much to do after a substandard first day.

One of the Swede's playing partners yesterday, the Northern Irishman tore up the front nine with an eagle and five birdies.

He finished at 65 for the day and tied with Stenson overall for the tournament.

"He (Stenson) has been one of the most consistent players in the world for nearly 10 years," said McIlroy. "It was great to see his consistency rewarded, not just with the Race to Dubai but with a major championship as well."

Fellow Swede Alex Noren, seven under overnight, had possibly the best chance of beating Stenson on the final day.

Despite three birdies on the back nine, he could not do enough to rein in Stenson and concluded the tournament with a double-bogey at the last hole for a 71 and a 280 total.

England's Danny Willett, second in the race going into Dubai, fell out of contention after a four-over third round.

He carded a final-round 70 for a 287 total but was clearly struggling with his right shoulder, which he said he had slept awkwardly on on Saturday night.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick (66) won the US$8 million (S$11.4 million) tournament with a 271 total.

His compatriot Tyrrell Hatton (67) was second at 272, with South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (67) third at 274.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'STENSON CLAIMS 2ND RACE TO DUBAI TITLE'. Print Edition | Subscribe