Henrik Stenson 'game ready' in bid to complete Desert Swing set at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Swede has an impressive record with titles across the Middle East but two runner-up finishes are his best results in the UAE capital.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, is hardly short on stardust.
As such, the group of officials who decide who plays with whom on the opening two rounds had plenty of scope to be creative.
The 7.30am match on Thursday’s opening day pits together the gold, silver and bronze medalists from the first Olympics golf tournament.
When the first-round draw was announced on Tuesday, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar were even listed in just that precise order in which they finished in the Rio Games in 2016.
The National Course - hole by hole
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Stenson is back for a 13th shot at winning a competition he has twice finished runner-up in. The Swede is among a small group of players to have appeared in every running of the tournament since its inception in 2006.
If he were to win, he would be the first player to complete the full career set of traditional Desert Swing events – Abu Dhabi, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and the Qatar Masters.
This season, a fourth Middle East event, in Oman, has also been added, while the campaign culminates at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, a tournament Stenson has also won twice.
Like Rory McIlroy, another of the most luminous stars teeing it up in the capital this week, Stenson has been light on competitive golf ahead of this event.
He returned to golf in the matchplay format at the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last week, having been sidelined by a rib injury at the end of last season.
He won two out of the three points he played for there, as part of Europe’s win over Asia, and hopes his foray back onto the fairways will stand him in good stead for the trip round the National Course.
“You never really lose that, how to focus and get back into the mix,” Stenson said.
“It might take a day or two, but then it was certainly tournament focus back to where it needs to be and we played a good game.
“It certainly helps these weeks to be game ready, rather than coming straight from practise.”
Updated: January 17, 2018 08:09 PM