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Stenson lays down early marker on Race to Dubai title

By Phil Casey

Henrik Stenson tightened his grip on the Race to Dubai title as nearest rival Danny Willett's recent struggles continued in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City. Open champion Stenson can end the season as European number one for the second time in four years with victory in South Africa, provided Willett finishes outside the top 10.

And the 40-year-old Swede found himself just a shot off the lead following an opening 69 as playing partner Willett could only card a 75, his 10th score over par in his last 12 rounds.

"I'm very pleased," said Stenson. "It was below average on the front nine and I hit a good shot into eight and drained a nice birdie putt on nine to turn in red figures. I hit it nicely on the back nine and rounded off with some good birdies on 15, 16, 17 and a good par save on last.

"It would be nice to wrap up the Race to Dubai, but I just want to play as well as I can for these two weeks and see where it takes me.."

Willett had topped the money list since winning his first major title at the Masters in April, but was overtaken when he could only finish 75th in the 78-man field in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, where Stenson was joint second.

Stenson did not contest last week's Turkish Airlines Open, but Willett finished joint 68th in Antalya to only reduce his deficit from 261,387 to 252,163 points.

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