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03 December 2023

Stenson ready to make up for lost time with new clubs

Stenson was confident he could be competitive in Dubai after cramming in some practice with the new clubs. (EB FILE)

By Reuters

Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson dismissed suggestions he would be playing "catch up" at this week's Dubai Desert Classic after having very little time to get used to his new clubs.

Stenson had expected to test some new grooved irons late last year but unfortunately his plans were delayed by several weeks as his order failed to arrive on time.

"I thought I was going to receive the new clubs late last year but that didn't turn out. It kind of got stuck on 11:59:59 on the clock," said the world number 10 yesterday.

"So I've had to do quite a bit of work the last couple of weeks and yesterday I felt like I nailed it with the wedges and found the right ones."

Despite the setback, Stenson was confident that he could be competitive in Dubai after cramming in some practice with the new clubs. "It does feel like my game is coming together. I've had two good days with some testing of equipment, this changeover of grooves and wedges did kind of leave me out a little due to a few circumstances," he said.

"But if you look at the positives, at least I didn't play the wrong ball in Abu Dhabi as I did last year and I had a somewhat decent finish there," added Stenson, who finished in 21st place at the tournament.

This week the 33-year-old is hoping to exploit his local knowledge of the Emirates course as he established a base in Dubai some years ago and captured the title in 2007. "It's a week I always look forward to, playing a home course in good shape in front of home crowds and good friends," said Stenson.

"It's also a strong field this year and it's going to take a lot of good playing to beat these guys."

He also has his heart set on winning a third straight European Ryder Cup team cap.

"Of course, playing in a third Ryder Cup is a big goal for me this year, and it's been good for Colin Montgomerie that many of the top players in Europe are playing so well, so soon in the new season," said Stenson.

"Everyone seems to be on song, including many of the younger players like Rory [McIlroy] and Martin Kaymer so we're looking at a real generation shift in terms of a likely team make-up.

"So hopefully I can get back to playing my best because I am seeking my spot back in the team."

Stenson will play the opening two rounds of the $2.5 million (Dh9.2m) event in the company of Ryder Cup colleagues Lee Westwood and Oliver Wilson.


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