Henrik Stenson Must Finish Ahead of McDowell, Rose and Poulter for Golf First

Kathy BissellCorrespondent INovember 14, 2013

Justin Rose (L) and Henrik Stenson (R) pose with trophy in Dubai.
Justin Rose (L) and Henrik Stenson (R) pose with trophy in Dubai.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Henrik Stenson is chasing history of a sort.  Modern history, the kind designed by money.  He's trying to become the first person to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai.  

"To be able to, to have a chance to do it together with winning the FedEx Cup is probably something I'm not going to have a chance to do again, and it's going to be hard for some of the other guys to have a chance to do it, as well," Stenson said of the challenge ahead of him.

Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy won the money titles on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. However, as Stenson pointed out at the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour, if he is able to win the Race to Dubai, he'd be the first to have the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai honors in the same season.

Four main things stand in his way:  Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Stenson's wrist.  Should Rose, McDowell, Poulter or Stenson win the tournament, they win the Race to Dubai.

The other combinations are harder to figure out than the FedEx Cup points.  It's a get out the calculator moment.

Stenson is just  €213,468 ahead of Justin Rose,  €312,800 ahead of Graeme McDowell, €343,906 ahead of Ian Poulter.  First place is worth €985,476.

Finally, the big unknown is Stenson's wrist, injured somehow between the Tour Championship and the start of the final four Race to Dubai series.  He doesn't think it will require surgery.

"Yesterday, I was at the hospital taking another MRI," Stenson said, adding that he had already had ultrasound. "The overall outlook is good.  Nothing major that comes up there.  I think it's more it needs rest to recover.  It needs treatment and it needs some work, some strengthening and so on."

He only played nine holes in preparation for the DP World Golf Championship.

Graeme McDowell (L) and Ian Poulter (R) round out the top four in the Race to Dubai.
Graeme McDowell (L) and Ian Poulter (R) round out the top four in the Race to Dubai.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

"Fingers crossed, it's going to hold out for these four days," he said.

As if the pressure of the money title were not enough, he has a side bet with Ian Poulter.
If Poulter beats Stenson, Stenson has to play a "drinks waiter" for the pair on a night out.   
"That's probably the biggest motivator, not to become his servant for the day," Stenson joked.  "He's certainly got going off that bet and I know he's up my tail."  Stenson added the No. 1 focus is to win The Race to Dubai, but he added, "the second would be to win the tournament, and the third one would be to make sure Ian Poulter is behind me."

Graeme McDowell, who is in third place after skipping the event in Turkey last week, is coached by Pete Cowan who also coaches Stenson.

"Henrik Stenson has had an incredible five, six months," McDowell said.  "Would I like to get in his way this weekend?  Well, maybe not from a physical point of view, he's a big guy. But from a golfing point of view, I would certainly like to try to get in his way come Sunday afternoon and have that opportunity myself."

Ian Poulter is also ready to take up the battle on the course.

"If I could win this week and win, obviously, The Race to Dubai, I think that would be a huge achievement for myself, as a personal goal," he said.
McDowell recognizes the importance of the moment.

"You don't get many opportunities in a career to win an Order of Merit," he added.  "Unless you're Colin Montgomerie or Lee Westwood or somebody, you don't get too many opportunities to do one of these."
Justin Rose was busy being awarded a lifetime membership for the European Tour as a result of his U.S. Open victory.

"This really is an incredible honor, as it says, Honorary Life Member, and, it really, truly is an honor.  For a kid who started his career with 21 missed cuts, I guess this means an awful lot," he said.   

Regarding the Race to Dubai, he said he had an idea of about how far he was behind Stenson.

"I haven't really figured out the breakdown, but I imagine top three, there's going to make enough to get past him, depending on then where he finishes," he added.

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.