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Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Henrik Stenson  (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson is looking to complete his Middle East trophy collection at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The World Number Three from Sweden has previously won the Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic, and rounded off his spectacular 2013 campaign with victory at the DP World Tour Championship.

That capped a season that saw Stenson win The Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup, but the 37 year old is hungry for more success in 2014.

“I made the Abu Dhabi Championship part of my schedule ever since it first started in 2006,” said two-time runner-up Stenson. “It's the one tournament down in this part of the world that I haven't won.”

“I managed to win in Dubai in November at the Jumeirah Golf Estates and won the Desert Classic in 2007 and won in 2006 in Qatar. It would be a nice one to add to the collection here having made Dubai my home for almost ten years. 

“It feels at home, it's nice to be back, and it's going to be a challenge of course.” 

Asked what goals he had set following his remarkable form over the last six months, Stenson added: “I don't know, I'm open for suggestions. Maybe we don't need to better it, maybe we just need to equal it.

“I'm not greedy - I'll be happy with the same year. 

“I think for me, there's two big challenges. One is to try and keep the expectations, golf is a game that goes up and down like we know, and not feel like I have to expect not playing well, but that kind of run that I had for the last six months there, that's not going to continue forever and ever. We know that much. 

“But the most important thing for me is to keep on focusing on my game which is having its challenges at this time. The demand on my time is five times higher now than it was six months ago, so it's a lot of things to look after outside the course, which is going to take a little bit of time and focus away from playing and practising. 

“Managing my time really well is going to be key to get all things into my calendar. Funny enough, I still need to see my kids every now and again, and the wife. 

“The key is to keep on doing the same things that I did for the last year and a half that really led up to that great run that I had on the back end of last year to keep on developing as a player, and I still feel like there's a lot of areas that I can improve on, quite a lot in some and a little bit less in others perhaps.

“We haven't had a male Swedish golfer winning a Major Championship yet. I'm very positive it will happen at some point. 

“Hopefully I can be the one, but it will happen at some stage, and for me, it's going to be about good preparations. I did some good preparations last summer and I was up there at both The Open Championship and the US PGA. I played a lot better golf at the Dubai final and THE TOUR Championship in Atlanta. 

“So if I can do good preparations, and hopefully play as good as I did at those two events, then I hope to be there in the mix even more than I was at those two Majors. But I took a lot of positives out of finishing second and third at two Majors and still feeling like there was more to give.

“It's the last thing on my C.V. to add - that would be the icing on the cake. I won some great tournaments around the world, and last year, both the FedExCup and The Race to Dubai, and I played on Ryder Cup teams, I won the World Cup, but it's kind of the one thing missing.”

Stenson’s break over the winter has seen him add further awards to his trophy cabinet - most recently collecting two prizes at the Swedish Sports Awards.

The Ryder Cup star collected Sportsman of the year as well as winning the public-voted Achievement of the year.

“I won the Male Athlete of the Year, and Robert [Karlsson] won that one when he won the Order of Merit back in 2008, so I got the same one as he did back then.

“And then I won the one that Annika [Sorenstam] won twice. That's the people's vote where the people can either vote online or by calling in, especially during the gala evening night, they have a lot of focus on; it started with 14 male and female athletes, got down to eight a couple of weeks ago and then those eight, slowly you take away three at the first stage, and one by one until there's two left. So it's quite exciting.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LARRAZÁBAL, PabloESP18-14
T2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-13
T2MICKELSON, PhilUSA18-13
T4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-12
T4CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
6LUITEN, JoostNED18-10

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