Dubai (UAE): Henrik Stenson may lead the rest of the players on The European Tour but with just 72 holes remaining on the schedule nine men are still in with a mathematical chance of winning The Race to Dubai and with it the title of European Number One.
As well as Stenson, England’s Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, South African Richard Sterne and France’s Victor Dubuisson can theoretically still win the season-long Race to Dubai.
However, while those outside the top three in the standings rely on other results going their way, for Stenson, Rose and McDowell the equation is simple – win this week’s DP World Tour Championship and The Race to Dubai title comes with it.
To be staged on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from today (Thursday 14) to Sunday (17 November), the US$8 million tournament will see the best of The European Tour go head to head in the tightest Race to Dubai in recent years.
In pole position is World Number Three Stenson – and while the Swede has been struggling with a troublesome wrist no-one will be writing him off after a sensational summer that has seen him return to his very best form. The old saying “beware the injured golfer” could yet prove crucial.
Following a period of pre-tournament rest and a visit to a Dubai hospital for an MRI scan, Stenson finally took to the Earth course yesterday
“I’m delighted to be back in Dubai as I made my home here for many years,”
“Due to my preparations and resting the wrist, I have had two days off, so I’m actually quite excited to go out and do a bit of practice and play nine holes.“
The fear for Stenson fans is that the Swede may have run out of steam heading into the DP World Tour Championship. But with the European Number One spot on the line, Stenson is in no mood to let it slip and will concentrate on getting through the next four days in what has been a stellar year.
“I know that if I win here then everything else will take care of itself,”
“I think it’s very important to be in the lead. It’s always nice to have that cushion, because the other guys are still coming in with the pressure of having to catch me.”
One of those players tracking the Swede is US Open Champion Justin Rose who will form the final pairing of the first round with Stenson when the Swede and the Englishman take to the Earth course at 12.40pm. Play begins at 8am with the opening two ball of David Horsey and 2011 Race to Dubai Champion Luke Donald.
Helping the players on their way today will be the British Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – better known as the Red Arrows – who are poised to salute the 56 strong field with a unique golfing fly past. The distinctive red jets will mark the occasion at exactly 12.35pm, just five minutes before Stenson and Rose hit their opening tee shots on the Earth Course.
Thousands of spectators are expected to watch the Red Arrows during their five engagements at the Dubai Air Show later this week. Officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows represent the United Kingdom and have been thrilling crowds, at home and overseas, since the 1960s.
Squadron Leader Jim Turner, Team Leader of the Red Arrows, said:
“It is a huge honour and privilege to have been invited to the Middle East and have the opportunity to perform our display in so many wonderful locations. The Team is delighted to have a rare chance to salute some of the world’s best golfers who are competing in the DP World Tour Championship.”