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.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits