Nedbank Golf Challenge

Stenson the man to catch

2008-12-05 08:13
Going low (Gallo Images)
Chris Smith

Sun City - “If I had known the course record was 63, I would have played one shot better,” chuckled Henrik Stenson.

This after the Swede completed the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player County Club at Sun City in 63 shots – nine under par.

It's a huge gamble to speculate at the end of round one who three days later will emerge victorious, but the Swede has laid the best possible foundation.

“I played well.  Every facet of your game has to be in place to be able to post such a score,” he said.

Stenson, playing for the third time in the Pilanesberg, finished second and fourth on his two previous visits.

“It is a strong field playing here and we still have three days to go.  I hope I will be able to continue in the same vein.

“It is a difficult course, but I thought more players would have finished their rounds under par.”

Stenson learnt from his previous experiences here to avoid the rough at all costs.

“I only used my driver off the tee once - on the ninth - and that was the last time I did. After that I only used my 3-wood and hit the fairway each time.

“You really have to do everything possible to avoid the rough,” said the Swede.

South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini, usually an aggressive player, said after his round he played more conservatively.

“It was a good day for me. I would have liked to have putted a little better though. I gave myself good opportunities for a few birdies, but was unable to cash in on them.

“The easiest way to play this course is to hit it hard, hit it straight, and pray,” Sabbatini joked.

Few players will know better than England’s Lee Westwood just how good Stenson’s round really was.

Westwood played with the Swede and described his round as "excellent".


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