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Stenson Strolls in Dubai
Henrik Stenson lapped the field in DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The 37-year-old Swede closed with an 8-under 64 to win the European Tour's season-ending event at Jumeirah Estates.
He not only won the circuit's biggest prize, but captured the $1 million bonus that goes to the season-long Race to Dubai winner.
Stenson finished at 25-under 263, six strokes ahead of Ian Poulter, who shot 66, and eight ahead of Victor Dubuisson (71).
Stenson began the final round with a one-shot edge over Dubuisson. But Stenson carded six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 closer - with no bogeys on the day - to become the first golfer in history to take both the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai. Stenson victory in September's Tour Championship gave him the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
"It is still taking a little time to sink in what I've achieved this week as was the case when I won the FedEx Cup, but then it just kept getting better and better as the days went on and I am sure this will be the same," he said.
"To achieve the double-double, if you like, in winning the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai on top of winning the PGA Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup takes some beating, I guess," Stenson said.
Joost Luiten carded a 66 to take solo fourth at 272, while defending Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood - who all posted 67s - shared fifth at 273.
Jamie Donaldson (67) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (70) tied for eighth at 274, while another stroke back were Peter Hanson (67) and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (70).
"I am just very, very pleased with the way I played. I knew it was going to be a tough week as I knew the guys like Justin (Rose) and Ian (Poulter) would come charging at me and try to catch me," Stenson added. (See below for his full post-round interview.)
"I have to take my hat off to Henrik as he is unbelievable," Poulter said. "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 all I could do was make sure of second place and (earn) some valuable Ryder Cup points."
For complete scoring details, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013090/leaderboard/index.html.
After signing his scorecard and collecting the winner's spoils, Stenson met with reporters for the following Q&A.
MODERATOR: Henrik, DP World Tour Champion, Race to Dubai Champion, just sum up how you're feeling right now.
HENRIK STENSON: Well, it takes a little time to have that sunk in, same as with the FedEx, it just kept on feeling better and better as time goes on and I'm sure this will be the same. I have managed to achieve something very special here this week in winning both in America and the Race to Dubai. So you know, to get the double double sort of, winning the Tour Championship on both the tours and the total on both tours, that's going to take some beating I guess in the future. Just very, very pleased with the way I played. I knew it was going to be a tough week. Knew the guys were going to keep on charging trying to catch me, especially Ian and Justin and a few others. So just very, very happy with the way I managed my way around the course these four days and the way I played and what a final round and final hole - yeah, just very nice (laughs).
MODERATOR: You had a nice lead on the back nine. Was there a point where you were feeling comfortable and started to enjoy it?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, still, you can't let your mind slip too much. It's tough when you've got like a six shot lead, five, six shot lead with only two or three holes to go. You probably would have to break a leg to mess that up, I would imagine, but you've still got to keep on going and focus on the right things and try and play simple. It's pretty tough conditions out this at times. It was blowing pretty hard with a lot of sand in the air on the back nine, and it's all about for me making - trying to hit fairways and greens, making pars coming in. I think when I hit that 5 iron to about a foot and a half on 12, that kind of I was quite a few clear at that point. And then definitely felt like it would be mine to lose from there on. It would be hard for any of the other guys to make, unless they made four or five birdies in the last four or five holes. It would be mine to lose from there, so I just tried to play simple and keep playing the way I've done all week.
Q. What did Poults say to you at the end and how good is it now to collect on this bet?
HENRIK STENSON: Sorry?
Q. Just wondering what Ian Poulter said to you at the end and how good is it now to collect on the bet.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've still to collect that hundred dollar bill, ain't I. I'm going to get a photographer with me when we do that. No, it's been a fun Final Series together with Ian. He was so far behind me and he was really motivated to turn his season around, and he's certainly done that here in the last couple of weeks. It has been a very fun and friendly banter between us. I got sprayed by some Pellegrino there by all the Swedes afterwards. So he came down with a towel and I said, that's very fitting that you can dry me a little bit here now. Yeah, I'm not going to be serving him drinks. He can feel free to serve me one.
Q. The first question, how is the wrist feeling after carrying both those trophies?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we managed to do that. I've been on anti inflammatories all week to keep that down and it needs some rest and I'm going to give it some rest, as well. So far, so good. I'm in desperate need of some rest and I don't want to jeopardize any long term things by keep on playing. So we're going to give it a bit of rest.
Q. And how good was hitting 17 greens in regulation all four days? And have you ever been this good ever before?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think the the display on the front nine the first round of the Tour Championship in America was pretty spectacular. That's probably the most or the closest number of shots that I've hit so close to the pin in a nine hole stretch. It was inches, feet away, with 5 and 6 irons. But over this week, I've hit so many good iron shots and set up so many nice birdie chances, and eagle chances. It was kind of funny with finishing the way I did, because on 14, I hit two lovely iron shots in there with a 3 iron and a 6 iron to about six feet and I missed both of them. And then I finally got the eagle of the week on the last. I surely couldn't miss it from a foot down there (laughs).
Q. A lot of your fellow players have said that you're currently the best player in the world, the best player in the planet. Is getting to world No. 1 a legitimate target of yours, and if not, why not?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I'm certainly going to keep on trying. You know, it's going to take a lot of good golfing from where I am to reach No. 1. But I'm going to keep on trying. Like someone said, everyone that's won the Race to Dubai managed to be world No. 1 at some stage, so it wouldn't be fair not to try then, would it. So I'm going to keep on trying, just keep on getting better and keep on practicing. Got a lot of big events coming up next year, as well, that we want to play well in, so just keep on trying. We'll see. It's all about how many points you can accumulate and we'll see if we can get there one day.
Q. Does the last couple years make this even sweeter, to play the best golf of your life, given personal, professional, financial, pretty well cataloged series of setbacks for you?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I've always loved the game of golf, and you know how fun it can be to play when you're playing close to your potential. To be able to come back this year like I've done and play so many good rounds and so many good tournaments; and enjoying the golf the way I've done this year and being up there in the big events where it's tense and a bit of nerve and all the rest of it; that's what we practice and play for. It's just great to have been able to do that so many times this year. We're going to just keep on trying and putting ourselves in that position over and over again.
Q. I talked to Pete after your starting final round, and he said you've reached about 70 per cent of your potential. How do you take that?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it could be really fun when we get the other 25 (laughter). Yeah, I think golf is a game where you're never going to get finished. You're never going to get to kind of the end result. So there's always room for improvement. I've certainly got a couple of areas where I know I can keep on developing getting better, which could make me better as a player. So it's all about just getting out of bed and keep working away and trying to be better. Sometimes you improve but it doesn't necessarily means that your results are going to improve over a period of time. But at some stage, you kind of catch up and you can get the rewards for your hard work. That's what I said, it's not what I did in June that created this; it's the effort and time that I put in over the last couple of years that's been paying off from this summer and onwards.
Q. Tomorrow it's exactly one year since you won in South Africa. Where did you see yourself a year later back then?
HENRIK STENSON: I'd be lying if I said I was thinking I was sitting here as the Race to Dubai Champion; DP World Tour Championship, Dubai; FedEx Cup champion, Tour Championship Champion in America (laughter). Obviously it's been a dream year, a dream summer for me, and the season of my life. I would be lying if I said I saw all that coming.
Q. You were 85 percent of the way there anyway but this effectively seals your Ryder Cup place. How good is it to have that sorted so quickly and be back in The Ryder Cup?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I don't know if it's - if you guarantee it and you say it, I gladly accept it, Mr. Vice Captain (laughter). No, I mean, that's one of my big goals, of course, it was to try and get some points on the board early for the Ryder Cup. Some of my greatest moments in my career is part of the Ryder Cup in '06 and '08, and then I stood out twice. So I was always going to try hard to make it back on the team for Gleneagles and it seems like if we are not cemented, we are pretty close to it. It's going to be a great experience again and really looking forward to it. Can you guarantee 20 degrees and sunshine the whole week, as well? (Laughter).
Q. The yardage, your yardage on the club for second shot, the famous 5 iron.
HENRIK STENSON: I had 171 meters I think. So roughly 190 yards.
Q. And various players have said to me, the shot of the day, shot of the week, Gareth said the Shot of the Month; would you mind saying it was the shot of the year for us and really revving it up a bit?
HENRIK STENSON: The discussion I had with Lordy was it was kind of a 6 iron yardage, but with the wind ten, ten thirty, uphill lie, he just said, it's a 5 iron and I totally agreed with him. He just said, you've got to show a bit of class on this one, because it's in between clubs and it's a very tricky pin. Yeah, I would be willing to put it close to shot of the year probably on that one yeah. Given the difficulty levels and that pin position and everything else, it was a really fine shot.
Q. We spoke in China and you expressed some doubt or fear that you wouldn't like to win the Race to Dubai without a win today; you answered that emphatically, do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I would have been happy to win it anyway but of course it's magnificent to win the Tour Championship here, the Tour Final, and to win the overall, as well. Like I said, it's part of it. You can win the total without having a win on European soil, that's part of it. But of course it makes it even sweeter to win here this week and win in Dubai that I've called home for almost ten years until recently. Yeah, that just made it even sweeter. I knew I was going to be pushed all the way to the end. So to be able to pull it off the way I did, I'm really, really happy with myself.
Q. Your thoughts on the second shot on to the 18th and how difficult were the conditions today?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, driving up here to the course in the morning, I saw the wind was blowing kind of early, it was blowing from a different direction, and it's been kind of moving about throughout the day. Having played here a number of times before in the DP World Tour Championship, I knew some of the pins where they were going to be on the Sunday and I thought it was going to be a difficult day for scoring, more difficult than the previous days, and it was going to be suiting my game plan, as well.
Because being in the lead and being up there, you kind of want to try and play solid and not make any silly mistakes and give yourself some opportunities and play along steadily. I just did a couple of really, really good iron shots early in the round to set up three birdies in the first five holes. And then on the back nine, walking off 9 green, I could hardly see past the golf course in the desert. It was really whipping up some sand and dust and actually very similar to when I won the Desert Classic in '07. So it was just about digging deep and trying to play solid on the back nine. But it was tricky for sure. But then we kind of turned around and got a few downwind holes coming back.
Q. And 18?
HENRIK STENSON: 18, I can't even remember what the yardage was, maybe 237 meters or something like that. I just tried to blast a 3 wood just right of the pin, and I pulled it - tugged it a few yards left but it was a decent strike. I couldn't even see at first, but I saw it appearing up on the ridge and it started coming back and the grandstand was liking it pretty loudly, so I knew it was going to be good. It was more or less over with or without that shot. I would have had to do something stupid not to win this tournament, but it was a very fitting finish.
Q. You've got a huge following here in Dubai for the many years that you lived here. Does it feel a bit like being a hometown hero winning the tournament?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, absolutely. I spent so many years at Emirates Golf Club and to have my photo and having won the Desert Classic and now to have this one here, yeah, it was really, really sweet to be able to have so many of my family members, friends here from Dubai. I made a lot of friends here over the ten years that I lived here. So to be able to go out and play as good as I did in front of everyone, it was very nice. And I really felt the support, as well. A lot of Swedes made their way out on the course this week, as well. You saw the boys with the banner, they were with me the whole week, the Stenson Boys (laughter).
Q. Do you anticipate Ian being the sort of character he is, will want to double or quits?
HENRIK STENSON: I think you start when you're on top, so he's never getting out of it. I can't have him put that much pressure on me for another hundred dollars. I won't survive that another time (laughter).
Q. I believe Lordy has bought two Ferrari this year from monies from your victories.
HENRIK STENSON: There was only one, I believe.
Q. Is there room in the garage for a second one?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, well, what he choose to spoil himself, I've got no comments really or any thoughts on that. You know, he's done great. He's been a huge part of my success and we work really good together out there. You know, we were a little bit off when we started this Final Series. I got in on a bad note with my wrist and couldn't practice early on, and we just - I had to dig deep. The wrist got a little bit better and got some good practice done with Pete. Also, my putting improved throughout the week. We've been working really well together out there this week, and we had to and we really stepped up together as a team and that showed in the result, as well. All credit to him and everybody else that helps me out: Cornel, my physio; Pete, my swing coach; and Torsten, my other coach. I have a great team around me and they deserve every credit of my success, as well.
Q. I'm sure you won't mind, but the tournament has extended its stay in Dubai until 2017. What are your thoughts on that?
HENRIK STENSON: That the -
Q. The tournament will be in Dubai until 2017 now.
HENRIK STENSON: Well, that seems pretty good for me I think. I've improved over the years. It's great support with golf in this region, and it's been very important for the European Tour for a long time. Now that I've managed to win in Qatar, I won the Desert Classic and now I've won here. So it's really only Abu Dhabi left to try and get all four of them. No, we really appreciate the support from this region and what everybody does for golf here and The European Tour.
MODERATOR: Thanks, congratulations Henrik.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.