Father-to-be stenson aiming to “go one better” And take abu dhabi crown

Published January 17th, 2007 - 08:04 GMT

UAE-based Swedish ace Henrik Stenson, runner up to Chris DiMarco at last year’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, is confident he can “go one better” in 2007 and take the title.

Speaking at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on the eve of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority owned Championship, from January 18-21, the Dubai-based world number 13 said he will be looking for a repeat of the pattern that brought him success at the Qatar Masters, where he finished second in 2005 and took the title in 2006.

“It’s definitely not impossible to go one better here this year because I managed to do that in Qatar last year – to win after being second the previous year. So I’m looking for a repeat of that,” said Stenson, who’s hoping the Abu Dhabi title will help him in his bid to break into the world top 10 in 2007.

Making his first appearance in his adopted home country since he tied the knot with wife Emma at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, on December 30, Stenson said his experience playing in all the majors in 2007 has boosted confidence in his game, but admitted that with a strong field of top 20 players the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship is wide open.

“We’ve got a lot of good players here. It’s the first week of the year for a lot of guys, but I guess somebody out of the top 20 players in the world that are here will definitely be contending for victory,” he said.

Stenson revealed a further incentive for getting his hands on the Abu Dhabi winners’ cheque of US$333,330 – it will cover the cost of decorating a nursery.

“There’s a little Stenson on the way,” he admitted, adding that he and world number 1 Tiger Woods will become dads around the same time in July.

“It was kind of funny. I asked him when we were playing together at the Target if they were looking to have kids and he said no. And I knew that we were pregnant and I didn’t say anything. So neither one said anything. And then it came out a couple of weeks later that we’re both having kids at virtually the same time. It’s going to be very exciting and I’m looking forward to that. Obviously that’s going to be the focus of the summer.”
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Vying for the Abu Dhabi title with Stenson and a galaxy of A-list stars is Spanish world number 11 Sergio Garcia, who finished third at the Championship in 2006 and was full of praise for changes to the Abu Dhabi course this year.

“It’s very nice. It’s in good shape.  I noticed a couple of changes here and there, so I’m guessing it’s probably going to make the course a couple, maybe three or four, shots tougher. But it all depends on the weather, too. Last year, I remember, we had one or two days with a lot of wind. So if it doesn’t blow, it will play a little bit easier, and if it blows like it did last year, it will play just a little harder than last year.”

Each player will not only be vying for the first prize of US$333,330 or a share of the US$2 million total purse, but also the chance to win free rooms for life at Emirates Palace Hotel and a Nissan 350Z – the prizes for making the Championship’s first hole in one. The luxury Abu Dhabi hotel and car manufacturer are among an elite list of event sponsors, which also includes Etihad Airways, Aldar, Standard Chartered Bank, Etisalat, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Omega and Xerox.

Spectators can tune into the action between January 18-21 with Championship Radio – a dedicated FM radio channel (105.4) delivering a live ball by ball commentary, player interviews and analysis from a top tier broadcast team on special souvenir radios that can be purchased at the venue.

Tickets for the star-studded Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are available via the official website – www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com – online at www.timeouttickets.com, via the ITP toll-free hotline 800 4669 or for international clients +971 4 210 8943 and at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Tickets are priced at AED 125 for a daily pass and AED400 for a four-day pass though preferential rates of AED100 and AED300 respectively apply to UGA members. Children under 18 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Car parking will be free during the Championship.


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