Race leader Sten­son sends out a sig­nal to his ri­vals at DPWTC

Su­per Swede Sten­son eyes more glory af­ter maiden ma­jor

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back

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.

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