Henrik Stenson is looking to strengthen his position at the summit of The Race to Dubai at this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China, with the World Number Four hoping to kick-start his Final Series campaign.
Stenson, suffering from a cold and a wrist injury, did not get off to the start he was hoping for in the first event of The European Tour’s four-part Final Series, finishing tied 33rd in last week’s BMW Masters presented by SRE Group.
But after shaking off his injury and ailments, the Swede improved on a third round 79 by 14 shots with a superb closing 65 at Lake Malaren Golf Club and he is hoping to take that momentum into the final World Golf Championshps event of 2013 and put some distance between himself and the chasing pack in The Race to Dubai.
Stenson currently holds a €443,725 lead over second placed Graeme McDowell, but having finished tied 13th on his last visit to Sheshan International Golf Club in 2010, he is targeting a strong performance this week, with a first prize of €102,145 on offer in Shanghai.
“This is obviously a big event on our schedule and one which we always look forward to,” said Stenson. “It is one of the strongest fields of the season and I have played quite well at Sheshan before, so I’m hoping for a good week.
“You are going to have to play some good golf to be up there, we know that much. With the preparations leading into last week I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be, but I finished with a good score on Sunday so I feel pretty good about my game.
“I would be hoping to be in contention one of these last three weeks. I can’t walk around waiting for the right things to play out. I need to have some good results if I am going to finish on top and win The Race to Dubai. I imagine it will still be quite open when we get to Dubai, so if I can have a good result this week it will really help me. If not, I will keep working away.
“It certainly helps that I’ve done quite well around here before and I think it is good golf course. It has a good mix of risk and reward holes. There are a couple of easy holes and a few tougher holes. You need to hit the ball pretty well from tee to green to give yourself the chances. It is a course that suits me pretty well. It suits good ball strikers, but there are a few of those here this week!”
Having won the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship in 2007, Stenson is looking to capture his second World Golf Championships title this week, with his resurgence over the last 12 months securing a return to the event that he has not qualified for since 2010.
“I’ve missed this event the last couple of years so it is great to be back in the field,” said Stenson, who was joint runner up in the previous WGC event of 2013, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitional. “That was one of my big goals when I started to climb back up the rankings – to get back in the big events, and this is certainly one of those. They put on a great venue for us, a great golf course, and a great tournament, so it should be a fantastic week.”
Ian Poulter is the defending champion in Shanghai, with the field also including Open Champion Phil Mickelson and former World Number One Rory McIlroy.