Henrik Stenson has set his sights on taking his game to the next level in 2015 after successfully defending his DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Twelve months ago the Swede sealed both the Race to Dubai and the season finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates, and, while Rory McIlroy had already wrapped up the former before the week began, Henrik Stenson ensured he finished second to the Northern Irishman with the first tournament title defence of his European Tour career.
After overcoming a “shocking” double bogey sixth on the par-4 11th – his only double of the tournament – Stenson rallied and found himself on 14-under with two holes to play. He hit a stunning shot at 17 to set up a tap-in birdie, then holed out from six feet on 18 for another birdie and the title.
Henrik Stenson, 38, was close to becoming world No.1 last year and said he wants another shot at the No.1 title – but admitted he would take a major championship over top status on the world rankings.
Henrik Stenson : 'I'll go for a major'
“I was really close to being world No. 1 there around Wentworth time last year and it was all down to what Adam did at Colonial, and he stepped up to the plate and won that tournament to make it a no‑discussion,” said Stenson.
“So yeah, it would be a nice thing to have been ranked the world’s best player at some point. But if I got the opportunity to choose, I’ll go for a major over being ranked No.1 in the world any day of the week.
“I’m going to try to prepare well for the majors and be in good shape for when they start next year. World rankings…show you the current form on what you’ve done in the last two years. And yeah, of course if I keep on playing well and being up there in a lot of big events, I potentially might have a crack at it - but it is a process and not something that I wake up every day saying, ‘I’ve got to get to that point’. But yeah, it would be a nice thing to be ranked No. 1 at some point.”
McIlroy made a fist of it at the death as his eight foot birdie putt shaved the hole on the last, leaving him in the clubhouse on 14-under-par. He was subsequently joined on that mark by English star Justin Rose, who missed a birdie chance of his own from similar length and signed for a 69, then Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who tapped in for birdie following a superb bunker shot on the last for a round of 69.
“Today was okay,” said McIlroy. “I obviously didn’t make any bogeys out there, but it was pretty scrappy. I felt the most comfortable with my game on the first day and then I didn't quite have it for the rest of the week. I’ve got an event coming up in Australia next week, the Australian Open so I’ll try and go there and finish the season off with a win.”
The four-time major champ then added: “I’m excited about the new season ahead. Everything will be geared toward getting ready for Augusta and being ready for April. I’m looking forward to it – I've got a chance to win the career Grand Slam at 25, so there is a lot to work hard on and a lot to try and achieve next year.”
Spare a thought, however, for poor Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello. On the 15th he missed a relatively short putt to take a two-shot lead, then crumbled on 16 by hitting his third shot into the water en route to a double bogey then finding the water on 17 again. By playing the last three holes in four-over, he finished in a tie for ninth.
A third-round 75 scuppered Richie Ramsay’s chances of a big payday finish at the season ending event, though he bounced back with a fine closing 68 to finish in a tie for 16th. Marc Warren finished joint 21st with Stephen Gallacher tied 31st.
Henrik Stenson second on Race to Dubai
Rory McIlroy won the Race to Dubai with 7,149,503 points. Henrik Stenson finished second with 4,981,093, with Justin Rose third on 3,180,388. Stephen Gallacher was top Scot in 16th on 1,863,965.