Nerveless Stenson defies late charge by Els and Woods

Henrik Stenson yesterday joined the exclusive club of European golfers who have put one over on Tiger Woods when emerging as the last golfer left standing on a mouthwatering day in the desert. After this startling success the Swede will never again solely be remembered as the man who holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup.

The action started with a sandstorm and finished with a stampede as player after player put themselves forward to lift the Dubai Classic's prestigious title. There was Ross Fisher, the young Englishman who removed the "unknown" prefix from his name with a showing of guts and class that defied his inexperience; there was Ernie Els, desperate to kick-start his much-publicised three-year quest to return to the top of the world rankings; and then there was the world No 1 himself.

Naturally, Woods' defeat was to have most resonance for the simple fact that he rarely loses when in contention in the final round. Indeed, the statistics prove what a freakish result this was, being the first strokeplay tournament since last June's US Open in which he did not finish in the top two. But the 31-year-old did come third here - two behind Stenson and one behind Els - and that means it is 12 events back to the last time he was not on the podium.

Even in defeat, Woods' legend continues to grow. There is a very good reason for that. With respect to Stenson's gallant 68 for a 19-under-par total, it was the Tiger fightback that added the edge to proceedings. With Roger Federer and Michael Schumacher in attendance - those other two most recent recruits to the sporting pantheon - Woods produced a charge when seemingly lame. It had seemed so unlikely by the side of the 11th green, when Woods inexplicably fluffed his ball into the bunker just three feet in front of him. This second consecutive bogey had removed him four shots from the pace and little was going right.

Then came a birdie on the 13th and a 30-footer brought him another on the par-three 14th. But it was the trademark 20-yard pitch into the cup on the 15th that really raised the temperature and when he zeroed it in to within six feet on the 16th he looked on the brink of sharing the lead. Alas, the putt slipped by, just like so many of Woods' did here and his chance was gone. By the time he skulked off that green, Stenson had gone a further shot clear and effectively set up a straight final-group, final-hole shoot-out between he and Els. Together with Fisher, Woods was left to reflect on what could have been.

If anything, the young Englishman had just held an even bigger shout than his playing partner. After 13 holes, the 26-year-old from Ascot had a one-shot lead and was apparently the competitor striking it with most clarity and conviction. But inevitably the tension got to the golfer ranked 294 in the world and after back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th he had to be satisfied with fifth. But satisfied he was.

"I feel I can walk away from here with my head held high," he said. "I stood toe to toe with Tiger and was actually a couple of shots up on him at one stage. I said on Friday that I felt I belong out here and today I think I've proved myself against the best. I'm well proud."

So, unsurprisingly, was Stenson. The 30-year-old lives in Dubai and spoke of the "joy" of winning his second "home" tournament. To do so, he had to produce a back-nine of 33 that was grandstanded with a nerveless approach to the last. Holding a one-shot lead, but with Els at the back of the par-five green in two, Stenson knew he had to get down from 80 yards in two. The exquisite lob-wedge left him a 10-footer, which was dispatched with remarkable composure by a man who apparently has everything it takes to end Europe's seven-year major void. "Of course, there is great satisfaction in winning a tournament with Tiger Woods in it," said Stenson, who has Nick Faldo's former caddie, Fanny Sunesson, on his bag.

"But it gives me just as much satisfaction to play with Ernie Els in all four rounds and beat him down the stretch. With the wind early on, it was tough out there and I just had to hang on. I had a bit of an upset on the ninth hole, but I was pleased the way I came through."

That particular "upset" involved a row with rules officials who demanded he identify his ball that had bizarrely become lodged on the top of a hospitality tent. That involved clambering on to a marshal's shoulders and from there on to scaffolding. "I felt like a performer on 'cirque de soleil'," said Stenson. If his handling of Tiger is anything to go by, Stenson might consider joining up as a Lion tamer.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little