Stenson bolsters position in Turkey

11/7/2013 3:30:00 PM
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose   (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose (Getty Images)

Race To Dubai leader Henrik Stenson was among those who made good use of soft conditions during a shortened first day of the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Stenson, much like the rest of the field, was unable to complete his opening round after play was delayed significantly by an overnight storm.

And yet the Swede would surely have been satisfied with his position when darkness descended on Antalya, at which point he was three shots adrift of those bunched atop the leaderboard.

In the group of three on seven under par was South African Darren Fichardt as well as English duo Paul Casey and Steve Webster.

But, with The European Tour season finale just a week away, it was the battle between Stenson and US Open Champion Justin Rose that was garnering the attentions of those in attendance.

Rose, sitting 325,100 points behind Stenson, represents the biggest threat to his playing partner’s hopes of taking the honours on both sides of the Atlantic following his triumph in the FedEx Cup.

It was the man on top who seized the initiative today, though, as he ended on four under having hit a fine tee shot on the 11th hole.

To make matters worse for Rose, already three shots worse off, he will begin tomorrow playing his fourth having found trouble in the trees after an errant drive.

The break for him may well be a welcome one, although the same surely could not be said for Stenson, who had begun to prosper as a couple of late birdies completed an outward 31.

Capping off that marquee group was World Number One Tiger Woods.

However, the 14 time Major champion was off-colour and needed to scramble his way to one under.

His efforts were a far cry from the efforts produced by the quintet of leaders.

Casey, in particular, caught the eye with some excellent all-round play, giving further notice that he is back near his best having endured some struggles with fitness and form.

He started in perfect fashion, following up a long eagle putt at the first by birdying the second on the back of a fine tee shot.

A gain at four was offset by a dropped stroke at five, yet Casey caught fire again either side of the turn by birdying nine, ten, 11 and 13.

He said: "I really thought you've got to get off to a quick one with the two very, very reachable par fives in the first four holes and I did exactly that by knocking a driver and 3 wood to the first and holing it for eagle.

"It was nice because I had Tommy Fleetwood and Grégory Bourdy matching me all the way.  Tommy started with four birdies, so I didn't feel like I was out there by myself.  I clearly felt, if these guys are making a lot of birdies, then the entire field is going to be making a lot of birdies.  And sure enough, they were. 

"It was foot flat to the floor today and just fire at the pins, take advantage of the soft conditions we've got and see what happens."

It was Webster in the strongest position, his score coming from just 12 holes as he birdied 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18 and two.

Much like him, Fichardt operated without a dropped stroke.