Tue, Nov 25, 2014 - Page 20 News List

‘Ice Man’ Stenson beats heat in Dubai defense

Reuters, DUBAI

Henrik Stenson overcame sweltering desert heat, fatigue and an out-of-bounds shank to retain the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Sunday, the first time the Swede has successfully defended a title.

Stenson began the day as joint overnight leader with Rafael Cabrera-Bello on 14-under, three strokes clear of their nearest challenger, but after a promising start, the leading pair retreated to nervous, defensive golf as the chasing pack closed in on them.

“Kind of middle of the round, a few things didn’t go my way — I was hanging in there fighting hard and I got my reward in the end,” Stenson told reporters. “What goes on between the ears is a key factor in this game.”

Both the Swede and Cabrera-Bello failed to make a birdie from holes nine to 16. Yet while the disconsolate Spaniard — 100 places below Stenson in the rankings — suffered successive double-bogeys at 16 and 17, the Swede picked up shots on the final two holes.

That meant he won by two strokes to claim the US$1.33 million first prize and a further US$800,000 bonus for being runner-up on the European Tour’s money list.

Stenson will also move to second in the world rankings and his cool Dubai finish was proof of “Ice Man” nickname, although he modestly played down the description.

“Of course I feel nervous. Everyone’s nervous. Anyone that says they aren’t nervous are lying,” he said.

The 38-year-old went 39 holes without dropping a shot, but a bogey at eight and a double-bogey on 11 after scuffing his ball out of bounds almost wrecked his title hopes.

“I walked up to the ball with way too much club in my hand and instead of changing I tried to play a cut two-iron against the wind and hit a push/slice/shank straight into the building,” Stenson said.

“By the end of the day, it didn’t cost me the tournament, but at that point, it felt like it could do,” he added.

Stenson had complained of fatigue after his second and third rounds at Jumeirah Golf Estates, rating his performance those days as only six or seven out of 10, despite heading the leaderboard.

“Not having played in heat like this for a couple of weeks certainly took its toll,” Stenson added. “I was trying to drink and eat a lot, but I still felt like it was hitting me towards the last five, six holes pretty much every day.”

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