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Henrik Stenson tames Tiger Woods in his den

Albany | Updated on December 08, 2019 Published on December 08, 2019

Winner Henrik Stenson (left), Dr Pawan Munjal and tournament host Tiger Woods

This is his first title since August 2017

Henrik Stenson tamed Tiger Woods and the rest of the star-studded field to win the Hero World Challenge, his first title since August 2017.

Stenson, who at a world rank of 43, received a wildcard to play the event, where he has been runner-up in 2014 and 2016, hit he the front early after overnight leader, Gary Woodland (73) faded away to Tied-seventh.

Thereafter, Stenson jostled for the lead with a surging Woods, whose three birdies in first seven holes indicated a win in his own event for the first time since 2011. But a birdie putt that horse-shoed out on the ninth cost him the momentum. On the back nine he birdied just once and bogeyed once, too, to card 69 and ended fourth.

Jon Rahm, who had won on his last two starts in Spain and Dubai, almost pulled off a third successive one. A terrific birdie-eagle-birdie burst from 14th to 16th saw him take the lead for a while. But he ran out of holes as he parred last two for a 66 and set the target at 17-under.

Decisive move

Stenson went into shared lead on the first hole and then got it outright on the second. He was then pushed down by Woods, Justin Thomas and Rahm in turns.

The Swede, after a great save with a 40-foot putt for par on 11th, made his decisive move on the Par-5 15th. He smashed his second shot with 5-wood from 260 yards to inches off the cup for a near-albatross. The eagle nevertheless carried him to 18-under and he did not look back from there with three safe pars, including a 45-foot two putt on the last.

Stenson received his Tiger Trophy from Dr Pawan Munjal and the tournament host Tiger Woods.

On the back nine five players — Stenson, Rahm, Woods and Thomas held the lead at some point — and Reed, the halfway leader, had a winning chance.

Woods, who made an early charge, before finishing fourth, was all praise for Stenson. Woods said, “I think we can all agree on this, of where he has come back from. He completely lost his game there for a while and couldn't hit it on the map, then come back, work all the way back to being a major champion and won tournaments all around the world. We all know he's one of the best ball-strikers there is out here, it's just how well he putts, and this week he definitely putted well and putted honest.”

Reed carded his third 66 of the week, but the two-shot penalty on the third day and a card of 74 cost him dear. He ended at 16-under and sole third; Woods was fourth while Thomas and Justin Rose (65) were tied fifth.

Asked how it felt to win a trophy after a long gap, the Swede said: “Oh, the last win at Wyndham. Yeah, that was a little while ago. I mean, I haven't played bad golf, but I haven't put myself in contention enough. It's the same this year if you're looking at the results.

‘Finished on a high’

Stenson added, “I've got a couple of top-5s, top-4s on the European Tour and a couple of top-10s on the PGA TOUR and then lots of finishes between really 15 and 25, I think. It's just been a very average season, but it finished on a high and this should give us some good momentum. Rest up and start the next season fresh.”

The Hero World Challenge contributed $184,500 to the ONE Bahamas Fund through a charity challenge to the players. It donated $500 for each birdie, $1,000 for each eagle and $2,500 for each hole in one. The 18 players in the field made 337 birdies and 16 eagles over the four-day tournament. The fund is to be used to rebuild areas of Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Published on December 08, 2019
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