Stenson atones for past with Qatar victory
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2006 Qatar Masters | Wrap | 30 Jan 2006
Henrik Stenson’s win in this week’s Commerical Bank Qatar Masters further emphasises his growing status in world golf and that he might well go on to become the best ever male golfer to come out of Sweden.
It may have been only his third win since joining the European Tour full time in 2001, but the level of consistency he has developed over the past twelve months suggested that the floodgates were about to open. His last eleven starts have now yielded this win, three seconds and two third placings and given that Vijay Singh and Ernie Els were in this week’s field, a significant improvement from his current world ranking of 28 is imminent.
Having finished runner up to Els here twelve months ago and given his current form (he was second last week to Chris DiMarco), he was a logical favourite to at least contend here and after a start that gave him a share of the first round lead with Ricardo Gonzalez the signs were ominous for his opponents.
When the 29-year-old added a second round 68 he had the outright lead, which he would virtually maintain from that point on. He took a one shot lead over tour veteran, Paul Broadhurst, and fellow countryman Niclas Fasth into the final round and on a windswept day he was challenged at times but eventually ran out the winner by three.
Broadhurst was so quickly out of the blocks with birdies at the first and second that he joined Stenson in the lead through two holes but a bogey at the 4th saw him fall back and from that point on Stenson retained the lead on his own.
A birdie at the difficult 15th gave Stenson an important cushion and he had a chance to put the issue beyond doubt at the reachable par four 16th although he missed the short birdie opportunity. At that point as he and Broadhurst walked to the par three 17th tee there was just one shot between them following the birdie by Broadhurst at the 16th and when Broadhurst hit his tee shot to a makeable distance at that hole the pressure was back on the Swede. Stenson’s tee shot was on line but short and finished on the front edge of the green perhaps 35 feet from the hole. There was now a very real possibility of a one or perhaps two shot swing but Stenson was equal to the challenge and he would make his putt and when he added another birdie at the last the difference was three.
Stenson has shown a liking for the Middle East but it is perhaps not surprising given that he now makes his home in Sharjah just south of where the Qatar Masters was played. In fact he lives very close to Dubai where this week’s event will be played.
A somewhat resurgent Broadhurst had his best year in nearly ten seasons on last year’s European Tour and the five time winner appears to be playing some of his best ever golf.
South African Darren Fichardt improved from his overnight sixth to third following his last round 68 and after a shocking season in 2005 he already has three good finishes behind him in 2006. He returned to the Tour School late last year and regained full playing rights and is now putting that status to good use.
Defending champion Ernie Els had a good if unspectacular week when 13th although the other major drawcard, Vijay Singh could only manage 24th.
The best of the Australians was Jarrod Lyle, who was here because of his Asian Tour status and had a good week when 13th. Andrew Buckle was 15th, Nick O’Hern and Unho Park 19th, Adam Fraser, Terry Pilkadaris and Scott Strange 59th.
The European tour now heads back to the United Arab Emirates for this week’s Dubai Classic where Tiger Woods will look to continue his great start to the year.