x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Garcia and Stenson impress in Dubai

Two fallen giants of times gone by will be kindred spirits on the Earth Course this afternoon as Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson seek to build on what were unexpectedly impressive starts.

DUBAI // Two fallen giants of times gone by will be kindred spirits on the Earth Course this afternoon as Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson seek to build on what were unexpectedly impressive starts to the Dubai World Championship.

The two European Tour stalwarts have had better years. Neither was good enough to retain their place in the Ryder Cup team and neither has won a tournament since Stenson's Players Championship triumph in May of last year.

But both took encouraging steps along the road to redemption yesterday, Garcia finishing with a run of three birdies to complete his 69 and Stenson notching six birdies on the way to the same score.

"It's getting there slowly," said a relieved Garcia, whose slump in form made him considering quitting the sport. "It's still a work in progress.

"This has been a good learning experience for me. I'm having some good rounds like today's but unfortunately I'm having some bad ones as well."

Stenson, who has this year uprooted his family from their Dubai base to commit more time to playing in the United States, came off the 18th green celebrating his "best round of the year".

He qualified that remark after signing for his 69 by saying: "It was certainly my best iron play of the year. I'm sure scorewise we can find one or two rounds that might be better but I'm very pleased.

"If I can keep the scores going for four days and have a decent finish, that would be something to build on for next year."