Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Henrik Stenson season ends in double delight

Sealed with a kiss: Henrik Stenson celebrates his win with wife Emma Lofgren
Sealed with a kiss: Henrik Stenson celebrates his win with wife Emma Lofgren

Henrik Stenson hailed a "dream season" as he claimed a historic double in fitting fashion by storming to victory in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Stenson became the first man to win the European Tour's Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour in the same year thanks to a commanding six-shot victory at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The 37-year-old carded a flawless closing 64, signing off in style with a tap-in eagle on the 18th, to finish with a tournament-record total of 25 under par, with money list rival Ian Poulter a valiant second following a 66.

France's Victor Dubuisson was two shots further back in third, with Holland's Joost Luiten fourth and a trio of former world number ones – Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood – sharing fifth.

"It has been an incredible summer for me, the autumn in America was great and now this," said Stenson, who was second in the Open and third in the US PGA before his FedEx Cup triumph.

"It has been a dream season.

"I played so well this week. I knew the guys would try to catch me, especially Ian who never gives up. I wanted to stay ahead of him and I managed to do that.

"I don't know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the majors and that (becoming the first male Swedish player to win one) would be the icing on the cake."

Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell had both arrived in Dubai knowing a win would secure the Race to Dubai title.

Rose finished the weekend in 11th, while McDowell was 17th – 16 shots off the pace – as they ended up third and fourth respectively in the final Race to Dubai standings.

A second round of 64 gave Stenson a one-shot lead he maintained thanks to a 67 on Saturday, while three birdies in the first five holes of the final round meant the result was never in doubt, despite being on anti-inflammatory tablets all week due to his wrist problem..

Stenson also had the added satisfaction of winning 100 dollars from Poulter after keeping the Englishman behind him on the money list, with Poulter also having to act as his waiter for the evening.

"You should stop when you're ahead so he's not getting another bet," joked Stenson.

"I can't stand that much pressure for 100 dollars. I haven't had the money yet but I'll have a photographer with me when I do."

Poulter, who was one of the first to congratulate Stenson after waving a white towel in surrender on the 18th, said: "I have to take my hat off to him, unbelievable.

"I tried to run him down as hard as I could, but even with a sore wrist he has pressed on and I just could not get close enough to him.

"Henrik has not made a mistake all week and I just had to make sure of second place and some valuable Ryder Cup points. I have thrown a lot at him and given him so much stick, but he is the best player on the planet right now."

The good news for Stenson is that a return to the Ryder Cup side for the first time since 2008 next year is already secure, while the long-term goal of becoming world number one is firmly on the agenda.

"It's going to take a lot more good golf but I am certainly going to keep on trying," the world number three added.

"Everyone who has won the Race to Dubai has been world number one at some point (Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Donald and McIlroy) so it would not be fair not to try."

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