Henrik Stenson won the final Hero Challenge of the 2018 European Tour season ahead of this week’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, the Ryder Cup star overcoming the European Tour’s most recent champion Lee Westwood in an exciting finale.
The 2016 Open Championship winner shone from the word go at Atlantis, The Palm, on Tuesday evening, scoring an incredible 190 points to top Group Two before seeing off his Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood in the semi-final.
And he took that momentum and consistency into the final where he beat Westwood 105-85, finding the floating target with each of his five balls to secure the trophy. It could have been a different story for Westwood, who won his 24th European Tour title last week at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, as hit the pin with his fourth shot and watched on as his ball bounced away from the central 50 point zone and to the outer five point zone.
For Swede Stenson, it was a perfect end to an enjoyable occasion at the glamourous venue on Dubai’s famous Palm Jumeirah.
“I guess that’s my first individual victory of 2018 and maybe I’ve reached that stage where I’ll take any victory,” joked Stenson. “It was good fun out there and it’s always good fun with that friendly banter, especially the first ten shots when it’s rapid fire.
“I was watching the guys and a few of them struggled to get all ten shots out there, and I sent off three in rapid fire and didn’t even know where they were landing until I heard ’50 points, 50 points’, so I guess I was dialled in!
“I was lucky to get off to a good start and I got the yardage dialled in with that 54 degree and started hitting and I got a bit lucky against Lee where he hit the pin and it bounced back to five points. I managed to fend him off.
“It is good that we had this on the Tuesday night, we can have some fun and relax and no one feels like they have to up at five in the morning. It’s a great set-up and there are a lot of familiar faces being back here in Dubai so it’s enjoyable.”
Stenson was presented his trophy by Pawan Munjal, the Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hero MotoCorp Ltd – the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters.
It has been a hugely successful year for the innovative Hero Challenge, which has been hosted at three world-famous landmarks this season – first at Edinburgh Castle ahead of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open then in London’s Canary Wharf prior to the British Masters, followed by this week in the United Arab Emirates.
Stenson was joined in Tuesday night’s line-up by the 2017 Race to Dubai Champion Tommy Fleetwood, current Masters champion Patrick Reed, European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, India’s Shubhankar Sharma and the eventual runner-up Westwood.
Matt Kuchar won the first Hero Challenge of 2018 in Scotland, before Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston delighted the London crowds in October with victory at Canary Wharf.
With the support of Hero MotoCorp Ltd, three editions were also played in 2017, at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, the British Masters and last year’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, won by Reed, Westwood and China’s Haotong Li respectively.
This was the third successive season in which the British Masters was preceded by the Hero Challenge, the innovative event having made its debut in 2016 at The Grove, won by Alex Levy. of France.
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Top picture: The Hero Challenge line-up along with Pawan Munjal, the Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hero MotoCorp Ltd (Getty Images)