DP World Tour Championship. Henrik Successfully Defends Title.

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Henrik Stenson successfully defended his DP World Tour Championship title on the Earth Course in Dubai.

DP World Championship

Henrik Stenson and Trophy / Getty Images

Henrik won the DP World Championship, and defending his title for the first time in his career. A final round -2 under par 70 gave him the winning total of -16 under par, and a two shot victory.

He said how good it felt to get his first win of the year, the win also took him to number 2 in the World, but he would have liked to have been number 1;

“It feels great.”

“I’m exhausted to say the least. It was hot out there and tricky on the back nine. I did not play my best and had a shocking hole on eleven.”

“I walked up to the tee with too much club in my hand and instead of changing I tried to cut a two-iron but hit a push, slice, shank straight into the buildings.”

“That knocked me back but I did not give up. I just had to dig in there and wait for something to happen. I had a couple of close calls this year to get my win and it was not to be. It’s been close but eventually you get something if you stick around and I surely did that.”

“It would be nice to have been ranked the world’s best at some point, but if I had the choice I would go for a Major Championship so I am going to try and be in good shape for them next year.”

World Number One Rory McIlroy, with Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Victor Dubuisson tied in second place at -14 under par. Rory made a challenge in the final round, shooting -4 under par 68, but it was not enough to upset Henrik. But he was very happy to have won the Race to Dubai;

The Race to Dubai

Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy

“It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve played the best golf throughout the season of any of the guys for the second time in three years, it’s really nice.”

“I never expected 14 under to have a remote chance of winning this golf tournament.”

“It just seemed like no one really took the tournament by the scruff of the neck and went with it. The two guys, Rafa and Henrik, were on 16 for quite a while, and sort of stayed there.”

“I saw Rafa went back to 15 under as I birdied 15 to get to 14 under and I thought if I could post 16, I might have a chance. 16 would have been good enough for a play-off in the end.”

“I just didn’t play well enough to win this week, and if I had of won by playing like that, it would have been a bit of a surprise.”

“A lot of positives heading into 2015 and something I’m really pleased about this year is that consistency that I’ve shown in my golf. I haven’t finished outside the top 25. My last few results have been very consistent, very good, and a lot of good stuff going into next year.”

“I feel like, as you said, this year has been full of up-and-downs, mainly ups, which is a great thing.I learned a lot from it and I feel like I came through this year stronger and wiser, and I can go into 2015 in a much better place.” 

“I’m happy with the success that I’ve had, and I feel like there’s been a lot that I’ve learned this year, as well, and that’s a great thing going into the future.”

 

 

DP World Tour Championship. Henrik & Rafa Pull Clear.

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Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera- Bello pull clear of the field in the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course in Dubai.

DP World Tour Championship

Rafa Cabrera-Bello / Getty Images

Rafa shot a great third round -7 under par 65, to share the DP World Tour Championship lead with Henrik at -14 under par, the pair of them now have a three shot advantage going into the final round tomorrow.

Rafa said it had been a very special day for him;

“Obviously it’s been a very special round for me today,” he said. “I’m really, really pleased with the score, and obviously with the good finish.”

“The short game and putting has been unbelievable, probably the best day of my life for short game.”

“I think that that’s what helped me hang in there on the front nine and I did play better on the back nine. I was playing more aggressive going for it, hitting good shots, and giving myself a lot of chances and I did make some of them.”

Henrik did nothing wrong today, a bogey free -4 under par 68, and reported he had recovered from hitting the wall yesterday, he put it down to old age. He has never successfully defended a title, and wants to win here;

“I felt a little stronger today but I wasn’t exactly jumping out of bed this morning, but what do you expect at 38 years old? I’m a little low on energy but when the mind wants something you can pull through.”

“It would be great to win. It’s a great championship and it would mean a lot to defend a title and get the win. It’s been a good year but when you assess it you always look at the trophies and there hasn’t been one yet.”

“All in all it was a good day and we’re still at the races so I am pretty pleased.”

Justin Rose scored a -4 under par 68 today to move himself into third place alone, at -11 under par. He played alongside Rafa and could only admire what he saw;

“I watched an incredible round of golf today, Rafa was unbelievable. He really struggled with his game the first few holes, up-and-down, up-and-down, up-and-down, and then got some flow going.”

“He had 15 one-putts today. His short game was Seve-like. It was awesome.”

“He was chipping it to a foot and it was awesome. Chipping around this golf course is difficult, very grainy, very tough, very sandy underneath the ball. It was a masterclass.”

Tied in fourth place at -10 under par are; Rory McIlroyVictor Dubuisson, Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjørn Olesen.

Rory had another off day, -2 under par 70,with a couple of double bogey’s thrown in, and is now four shots off the lead;

“It makes life a little more difficult for me tomorrow. I need to be aggressive, I need to go at pins, hit it close and make some putts.”

“I felt a little better out there today than yesterday so knew if I stayed patient the birdies would come. I got on a nice run with three birdies in a row from the fifth and another one at ten, but unfortunately the back nine was not quite as good as the front.”

“It was annoying to follow one double bogey with another. I was a little frustrated but it was nice to get a couple back and at least keep myself in touch.”

DP World Tour Championship. Henrik Has Half-Way Lead.

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Henrik Stenson has the half-way lead in the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course in Dubai.

 DP World Tour Championship

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik posted a second round -6 under par 66 to lead the DP World Tour Championship at the half-way point by two shots on -10 under par.

He reported that he felt like he was running on empty, after a long season;

“Around the 12th hole I felt like I was running out of steam. It was difficult mentally from there on. I had to really focus hard and drag myself over the finish line.”

“It’s hot and sticky and even though I’m drinking well and getting plenty of energy, I just felt like I hit the wall on 12.”

“If it’s one or two holes left, you normally feel like, ‘okay, I can hang on’. But it was a bit of an uphill struggle from there. I managed to finish in good style anyway so I’m pleased with that.”

“There’s still a lot of golf to play and I’m really happy with how I closed this round.”

Rory McIlroy is just two shots behind at -8 under par, sharing second place with Richie Ramsay and Danny Willett.

Rory said he will try to close the gap on the leader tomorrow;

“I’m in a good position and there is a lot of golf left, I’ve definitely been in worse positions after two rounds and still won.”

“It could have been worse but it probably could have been a little better. I definitely didn’t have it like I did yesterday. I had to dig in a little bit so hopefully that’s the bad one out of the way and I have 36 holes now to make some ground up on Henrik.”

“Henrik’s very comfortable on this golf course obviously. I can’t let him get too far ahead tomorrow. I have to get off to a fast start and try and put a bit of pressure on him. Hopefully I can do that.”

Shane Lowry, aided by a hole-in-one on the 13th, and former US Open Champion Justin Rose are among the five-strong group of players another stroke back at -7 under par.

Shane spoke about his first ever Ace in tournament play, on the 204 yard par three 13th, and how good it felt;

“It was a beautiful shot, a perfect number for my six iron.”

“It’s my first in tournament play and only my second ever so it was pretty exciting. It was hard to go on and play the next hole after that.”

“I am still in the tournament and I suppose if you had given me that on Thursday I would have taken it.”

DP World Tour Championship. Rory & Shane Share the Lead.

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Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowery share the first round lead in the season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

DP World Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory and Shane both carded first rounds of -6 under par 66 to sit on top of the DP World Tour Championship leaderboard on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Rory already has The Race to Dubai title in his pocket, but has stated he will contest here, he wants to win;

“It was a great way to start, you never expect to start like that, but I’ve been hitting the ball well for the last couple of weeks that I’ve been practicing and it was just a matter of trying to take that good range play on to the course, and I was able to do that today, which I’m really happy about.” 

“I feel like it really suits my style of play. I can be aggressive with the driver, and that can set me up to hit shorter irons into greens and obviously give myself a lot of birdie opportunities like I did today. 

“I didn’t feel like I took as many of them as I could have but it still added up to six under and I’m very happy with that.”

Shane proved he is still in good form, he birdied four of the last six holes, but said he was thinking about his poor final round last Sunday in Turkey;

The whole day Sunday and the flight down here you’re thinking about it, it’s one of those things. But I gave myself a chance to win last week. If I can give myself a chance to win again this week, maybe I’ll do it.”

“I have been playing well for most of the year. I’ve been very consistent. I’ve been shooting some great scores, making a lot of birdies and I did that today again.”

Richie Ramsay and Thorbjørn Olesen are a shot off the pace on -5 under par under, with defending champion Henrik Stenson another stroke back sharing fifth place with Emiliano Grillo.

Richie was also happy with his opening round;

“I’m really happy. Obviously it was a great start, three birdies on the spin, and then played lovely in the middle, had a lot of chances but just didn’t take a few.”

“But most important was I stayed patient, stayed with it. I kept on hitting good shots and then took a couple of chances on 14 and 15 and then finished off pretty solid coming down the stretch.”

“I played great in the middle part of the season. I know the game is there, just a matter of staying out of my own way and committing to it.”

Thorbjorn has been in contention a few times this season, and won the  ISPS Handa Perth International;

“It feels like a second home golf course for me really.”

“I played lovely, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. Hit a few really close, and the putter was working nicely. It was a really solid day.”

“When you’re seven under going to 16, and you know you have 18 which is a possible birdie chance, also, of course it’s a little bit disappointing, but I took a chance and it didn’t work out very well.” 

“I felt like it was going so well and I felt like I could pull it off – that’s what happens in golf.”

DP World Tour Championship. Sweet Success For Stenson.

DP World Tour Championship proved to be a sweet success for Henrik Stenson, becoming the first man to win The Race to Dubai on the European Tour and FedExCup on the US PGA Tour

Sweet success for Stenson

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik with new Rolex watch / Getty Images

Henrik won the DP World Tour Championship by six shots, carding a flawless final round -8 under par 64, and in doing so also won The Race to Dubai at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course. His winning total score was -25 under par;

“It has been an incredible summer for me, the autumn in America was great and now this. 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.”

In second place, and losing his bet, was Ian Poulter, a good final round of -6 under par 66 was not good enough to catch Henrik, but was a commendable effort. Ian finished with a -19 under par tournament total. He said of Henrik’s score;

 “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. 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.”

Victor Dubuisson picked up third place, playing alongside Henrik today he could only manage a -1 under par round of 71. He looked shell-shocked out on the course as Henrik constantly bombed drives off the tee with a three wood, still out distancing his efforts with a driver. Victor was alone in third spot at -17 under par.

 Joost Luiten was in fourth place at -16 under par, and a trio of former World Number Ones,  Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, shared fifth spot on -15 under par. It was a welcome return to form for these three as they have not had good results this year.

 

DP World Tour Championship. Stenson’s Star Still Shines.

Henrik Stenson’s star still shines in the DP World Tour Championship as he takes a one shot lead into the final round at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course.

Henrik Stenson   (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik is sticking to his game plan to become the first man to win The Race to Dubai and the FedExCup in the same season. Saturday he shot a third round -5 under par 67 to maintain his lead at the top of the board, at -17 under par. He knows he does not necessarily have to win here to win the Race to Dubai, but he see’s no point in easing up;

“I am trying to avoid all that, I know I can win The Race to Dubai even if I don’t win here, but why not try my hardest to win this tournament? If I do I know that both trophies are coming home with me. It’s a great achievement to be the one who wins the most money throughout the year and I would love to emulate Robert. The guys are going to try their best to attack but if anything it makes me try even harder.They are the ones that need to overtake me so I am trying to stick to my game plan. It’s working so far so I don’t see any point changing.”

Second in this tournament is Victor Dubuisson, a winner already this season, beating Tiger Woods en-route to picking up the title at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Victor had a  marvelous -8 under par 64 third round and definitely keeps the pressure on Henrik if he wants this trophy.

Victor Dubuisson

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

More importantly for Henrik he has a four shot lead over Ian Poulter, who needs to win this title if he wants to win The Race to Dubai himself. Ian is currently tied in third place with Alejandro Cañizares at -13 under par.

Ian has a special motivation for beating Henrik here, he has a personal  100-dollar bet with Henrik, at 10/1, that he will overtake him, with the loser having to act as the winner’s personal waiter on a night out as well;

“The odds would be significantly shorter now and I have put myself in position to try to kick his backside tomorrow. It’s fun hunting Henrik and if I can get off to a decent start it’s going to be great on the back nine. Being European Number One would be a huge highlight in my career.”

The other two who could upset the odds in the Race to Dubai are Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, who can still deny Henrik the title with victory here. Justin is at -11 under par and Graeme – 8 under par after both shot third rounds of 68.

Graeme says he is still in the competition;

“Alive and kicking, hats off to Henrik, he came here this week and is doing exactly what he needs to do. He has been the best player in the world the last six months and he needs to slip up tomorrow and I need to mount a massive challenge. I have not done much better than 68 round here before and I will need to do so tomorrow. I have not played my best the last three rounds but I am proud of how I have hung tough.”

DP World Tour Championship. It’s Alejandro Cañizares Leading On Day 1

It’s Alejandro Cañizares Leading On Day 1 the DP World Tour Championship, the finale of The Race to Dubai.

Alejandro Canizares  (Getty Images)

Alejandro Cañizares / Getty Images

Alejandro shot a first round -6 under par 66, to lead the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. He was more concerned about his girl-friend being there than talking about his golf;

“My girlfriend is from the Czech Republic and I always forget she doesn’t have a Spanish passport and needs a visa. I only remembered when we got to the check-in desk at the airport in Turkey on Sunday evening and handed over the passports. Fortunately we had help from a lot of people and the tournament director Nick Tarratt was waiting with Dubai’s captain of immigration when we got to Dubai at 3am on Monday morning.”

Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marcus Fraser are tied in second place, just one shot adrift of the lead at -5 under par.

Of the main contenders for the Race to Dubai title, Henrik Stenson has made the best start with a -4 under par 68, even though he managed to three putt the last hole today;

“It has been a lot of hard work all season and I just let my focus slip on the last. That sucks, but I am still in good shape and playing nicely. The guys are running on fumes so everybody is looking forward to getting done. You can’t win a tournament on Thursday but you can certainly play your way out of it. I would have taken four under at the start of the day so I just have to let the disappointment of the last slip away.”

Justin Rose, Henrik’s playing partner, is suffering from an inflamed shoulder that required an MRI scan recently. Justin shot -2 under par 70. He said Henrik is going to make it hard for them;

“Henrik is making it hard for the rest of us but that’s why I wanted it in my own hands and that’s still the case, so my goal remains the same for the rest of the week.”

Ian Poulter, -3 under par 69, carded four birdies and one bogey in his opening 69, but was frustrated at missing a number of chances to be higher up the leaderboard. He reflected on the missed opportunities;

“I am annoyed, I made two putts which were outside birdie chances and took a couple more but the rest were missed. I am frustrated but happy to be only three behind. I need to continue to be aggressive and see if I can nick it at the end. It’s a good mix to be really angry being three under par and still being in there for the next three days.”

 Rory McIlroy had to settle for an opening round of -1 under par 71, after being three under for his first four holes. But he reported his focus had improved.

” It’s much better than it has been the last few months and I am playing better, which is important. It’s good that the game is back on track. I have this event and two more so it would be great to get a win before the end of the season.”