Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)
The focus of world golf turns to The Race to Dubai’s Final Series this week as the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group heralds the beginning of a four tournament run worth more than US$30 million which will conclude with the crowning of The European Tour’s Number One player.
The magnificent Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai will host so many of the game’s greatest names in the second edition of the BMW Masters, where Peter Hanson will defend the US$7 million title against a field littered with Major Champions, Ryder Cup stars and European Tour winners.
Henrik Stenson, the man they are all trying to catch at the top of The Race to Dubai, will aim to continue the stunning run of form which yielded the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup last month as he seeks to to become the first player to claim the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup.
Stenson’s return to the summit of world golf has been nothing short of astonishing. The 37 year old Swede has, in the past two years, put his career back together to return to his current position of World Number Four from outside the top 200.
He began 2013 showing signs that he was on the road to recovery and since his third place finish in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July, he has produced the best golf on the planet.
Second place finishes at The Open and WGC – Bridgestone Invitational were followed by third place in the USPGA Championship before the doors to victory opened at the Deutsche Bank and Tour Championships in America to propel him back to the upper echelons of the World Ranking.
Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, second and third respectively to Hanson at Lake Malaren last year, will be in Shanghai looking to close the gap on Stenson’s Race to Dubai lead, along with global stars such as Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer.
The man defending the title, meanwhile, is looking forward to trying to keep his hands firmly on the trophy.
“The victory last year was special,” said Hanson. “To go up against Rory when he was World Number One and playing the best golf in the world at that time was something you don’t get the chance to do that often, and to be able to sneak ahead of him to take the title was awesome.
“I am looking forward to getting back to Lake Malaren. The BMW Masters is one of those tournaments that everyone wants to be a part of. You are playing on a great golf course against so many of the top players in the world and that is where you want to be competing.
“The golf course sets up well for an exciting tournament. It is quite wide open so you can really go for it off the tee and give yourself an advantage to then get it in close on the green and make birdies. I think that is what people prefer to watch and you certainly get the chance to do that there.”