Sport Golf

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Graeme McDowell remains in the hunt in Dubai

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

From Phil Casey in Dubai

In Atlanta there were five players, in Dubai there are three, but the outcome could well be the same if Henrik Stenson has anything to say about it.

Stenson went into the Tour Championship in September as one of five players who could win the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup by winning the tournament and did exactly that to claim the 10 million dollar bonus.

And this week the Swede is one of three players in similar control of their own destiny, knowing that victory in the DP World Tour Championship will secure overall victory in the Race to Dubai, status as European number one and another million dollar bonus.

"It's a very similar situation to what we had going into Atlanta and I kind of liked that set-up," said Stenson, who has a lead of just over 213,000 points over US Open champion Justin Rose; third-placed Graeme McDowell is the other player who can seal the Race to Dubai with a win over the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

"The outcome worked out well for me there so I hope it can be the same again. But it's going to take a lot of good golf. It's a quality field as always.

"And I know that my neighbours - Stenson, Rose, McDowell and fourth-placed Ian Poulter all live in Lake Nona in Florida - are my friends, but they are not going to start making bogeys because they like me."

Poulter is certainly not going to do that given the added motivation of a 100 dollar bet with Stenson, at 10/1, that he will not overtake him, with the loser having to act as the winner's personal waiter on a night out as well.

"That's probably the biggest motivator, not to become his servant for the day," Stenson joked. "But the number one focus is to win the Race to Dubai. I guess the second would be to win the tournament and the third one is to make sure Ian Poulter is behind me.

"Growing up on the European Tour and playing here for many, many years, it would mean a lot to be the overall winner of the Race to Dubai. It's always one of the things I would have like to achieve in golf.

"To have a chance to do it with winning the FedEx Cup is probably something I'm not going to have a chance to do again and it's going to be hard for some of the other guys to have a chance to do it as well.

"It's something that I really want, but if you want something too much that's going to make some trouble for you. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that I want it to happen, but I have to put that aside and focus on playing the best I can with my circumstances and my game for this week."

Those circumstances are a wrist injury which flared up before the first of the inaugural Final Series events in China last month, although the 37-year-old finished 34th in the BMW Masters, 31st the following week and then seventh in Turkey on Sunday.

Stenson missed Tuesday's pro-am here to undergo another MRI scan but believes the overall outlook is positive once he can take some time off.

"The way it felt on Tuesday at the BMW Masters I thought I was probably going to be on a flight home and not be able to play," he added. "From there it's been good developments and fingers crossed it's going to hold out for these four days.

"I'm in a good position to win the Race to Dubai but if somebody else wins the tournament, good for them. They will have done something really good and I can't feel like I've lost it then. I'm going to try my best to enjoy it rather than feeling I have to play well now otherwise somebody else is going to nick it. That's not the right mindset.

"I felt lucky last week, I thought it could have been a whole lot worse for my position (with Rose and Poulter in contention to win). But things worked out pretty well so I am still leading. It's always nice to have that cushion because the other guys are still coming in here with the pressure of having to finish in the top five or something to be able to catch me."

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