Race leader Stenson sends out a signal to his rivals at DPWTC
Super Swede Stenson eyes more glory after maiden major
W hen Henrik Stenson began his preparations for the season some 11 months ago, he always knew 2016 was going to be special.
As well as it being a Ryder Cup year, golf was returning to the Olympics after 112 years at the Rio Games.
This provided Stenson with even more incentive to make 2016 one of his most memorable years in the game.
Now, as the Swede prepares for the final tournament of a long season in which he won his first major at The Open and claimed Olympic silver, Stenson has his mind set on achieving one more success.
The 40-year-old is determined to win the DP World Tour Championship for a third time and finish the season on top of the Race to Dubai rankings. And when Stenson has that hunger, it often leads to success.
“A lot of times in my career when I really put my mind to something, I manage to achieve it,” said Stenson. “I always knew 2016 would be a big year, with the Olympics, Ryder Cup, the majors – as always – and I my mindset was to play well at those. “I’m not saying that I haven’t tried in the majors before, but in terms of preparation and sometimes when you just know you want to peak at a certain time, you can actually make it happen. “I had that confidence at Troon and my battery was a bit flat at the Olympics but I managed to get a medal, which was another big goal for the year. “It’s been a great summer and a great year. I hope I can finish it off in good style, too.”
Currently leading the Race to Dubai rankings, Stenson does not require victory at Jumeirah Golf Estates to end the season as Europe’s No. 1.
He leads secondplaced Danny Willett by nearly 300,000 points and has an even greater advantage over Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy.
Yet Stenson’s approach around the Earth course will be to shoot a score low enough to see him repeat his 2013 success when he finished on 25-under to win the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai title.
“It was pretty sweet to be here as Europe’s No. 1 in 2013 and I don’t think it would be any less sweet being here as Europe’s No. 1 in 2016 with the season that I’ve had,” he said.
“Winning The Open and some other fine performances throughout the year, it would be one of my finest achievements to win another Race to Dubai title.
“I wanted to be in a position where I had it in my own hands knowing that if I win here, that would seal the deal.
“And I’m in an even better position
given that I don’t necessarily need to win, even though that’s my mindset coming in here. “I need to play well, have a good, strong week, because you can never rely on what the other guys are going to do.” Should Stenson finish his season with something to celebrate in Dubai it would cap a remarkable turnaround from 12 months ago. Then, after a gruelling season, Stenson finished bottom of the pile at the DP World Tour Championship. Thanks to his memorable 2016 he can look back on that moment and laugh, but don’t expect a similar performance with so much on the line this weekend.
“Last year I had to stand on my head to see myself on top of the leaderboard,” joked Stenson, who was rewarded with a lifetime membership to the European Tour yesterday in Dubai.
“I was pretty flat when I came here last year and I was just running out of steam. I didn’t get off to a great start and was pretty flat.
“But I know I can play well around this course and I think I will probably be trying a little bit harder than I did last year in the final two rounds.”
Stenson is paired with Willett and the duo will tee off last in today’s first round at 12.40pm.