Golf

Stenson inches near title in Dubai

Henrik Stenson could become the second Swede in 76 years to win the European money title.
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)

Henrik Stenson strengthened his chances of winning the European money title with a 4-under 68 Thursday to sit two shots behind leader Alejandro Canizares after the first round of the season-ending World Tour Championship.

Having already won the U.S. PGA Tour's FedEx Cup, Stenson also leads the Race to Dubai standings and was two shots ahead of nearest rival and playing partner Justin Rose, who shot a 70.

England's Ian Poulter, third on the money list, shot a 69 while fourth-place Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland birdied three straight holes from the 14th for a 72.

Canizares also birdied three straight from the 14th to sit one shot ahead of Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Australia's Marcus Fraser.

Stenson said he felt no ill effects of a right wrist injury that restricted his pre-tournament practice to just nine holes this week on the Earth Course at Jumeriah Estates. However, his round could have been even better if he hadn't three-putted for his only bogey on the par-5 18th.

"I was a bit tired coming up the last (hole) and just lost a bit of focus there on the first putt, hitting four foot past the hole, and then it was disappointing to miss the putt coming back," the Swede said. "So while that was frustrating it was a good first round. I am playing good and there is no real need to worry about the game out there and it's one day down and three to go.

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"My wrist felt good today and it hasn't been bothering me that much. It's after the round that it stiffens up a bit and starts to swell up and look inflamed but it feels all right at the moment."

Rose trails Stenson by 213,468 euros ($287,033), with the winner in Dubai pocketing 994,000 euros ($1.3 million). The Englishman mixed three birdies with a bogey on the 17th, and saved par at the 18th with 20-foot putt.

"I feel as though I got a good score out of today by holing that putt on the last because finishing bogey-bogey would have left an awful taste in the mouth," Rose said. "So all in all, I am satisfied as it is a start I can build on. But then in saying that, Henrik got off to another strong start and he seems to do that in all his tournaments recently.

"He has his name up there on the board and he's already making it hard for the rest of us but I knew that would be the case, and that is why I wanted it to be in my own hands this week, that if I won this week and won the golf tournament, I also win the Race to Dubai."

Tagged: Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson

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