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Stenson to challenge Tiger for top spot in golf

Sweden's Henrik Stenson has set his sights on overtaking Tiger Woods as the world's number one golfer following a breakthrough season last year in which he climbed to the number three spot.

Stenson to challenge Tiger for top spot in golf

Stenson saw his bank balance rise by more than $20 million last season with a string of wins that propelled him to third place in the world rankings.

Now, he has the small matter of becoming the world number one for the first time in his sights.

At his press conference on Tuesday the cool Swede made no secret about his ambition to become the top-ranked player, saying it would be a "nice thing" if that happens.

"I think I'm in a position in the world rankings that if I really keep on playing well, I will have a chance to possibly, first, overtake Adam (Scott) and then maybe challenge Tiger (Woods) for the number one spot," Stenson said ahead of the Qatar Masters beginning Wednesday.

"I'm trying to focus on my stuff and then we'll see how far it takes us.

"But the chance is obviously there and it would be a nice thing to have on the CV when we put the clubs in the closet one day – that we've held the number one spot at some time, and if that doesn't happen, I would be happy to go for number two as of now."

Stenson, however, understands the perils of obsessing about the world number one spot, saying things always don't go according to plan.

"One part is down to what I do. If I can keep my form going and playing good golf, and it's those elements that we can't control what the other guys are doing, and might even be somebody from behind going on a really hot streak and overtaking everybody."

Stenson, who won the Qatar Masters in 2006 and has finished in second position thrice, considers the Doha Golf Club course a "good hunting ground" and is determined to make the most of his experience, this being his 14th appearance in the event.

After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi last week, Stenson feels he is getting his confidence back.

"The game's heading in the right direction for sure. It was a bit rusty last week, and I'd say today was as good as I've hit it this side of Christmas, anyway.

"So yeah, I'm looking forward to the week. I'm sure it's going to be fairly similar to what we had here in previous years with a bit of wind, and I think the course is in good condition where the trick is always to keep the ball below the hole on the greens, because downhill, downwind and downgrain, they are lightning and uphill you can be aggressive."

Two PGA Tour victories in September last year earned Stenson the FedEx Cup, before he secured the Race to Dubai by winning The European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in November.

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GOLF

Sweden’s Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters

Sweden's Alex Noren came back from a seven-shot overnight deficit to claim a dramatic French Open victory at Le Golf National on Sunday, as the difficult closing stretch of the Ryder Cup course saw a host of challengers slip up.

Sweden's Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters
Swedish golfer Alex Noren holds the trophy after winning the HNA Open de France, as part of the European Tour 2018, on Sunday. Photo: LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP
Fellow Swede Marcus Kinhult had entered Sunday's play with a two-shot lead but struggled through a five-over final round to end in a three-way tie for fifth.
 
World number 16 Noren fired a brilliant four-under 67 to reach seven-under par for the tournament, before sitting back and watching his rivals falter as he won by a single stroke.
 
The 35-year-old will be a key figure for Europe when the Ryder Cup gets underway on September 28, and he showed all his qualities by playing the last three holes in two-under.
 
The big-name pairing of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm both threatened, but the two Spaniards found water at the 18th, while world number two Justin Thomas never seriously contended.
 
Julian Suri, who was looking to become the first American winner of the event since Barry Jaeckel in 1972, went to the 72nd hole on eight-under but made a watery double-bogey, while England's Chris Wood also blew a late lead.
 
That handed Noren, who finished his fourth round 45 minutes before the final group, a 10th European Tour title and first since the BMW PGA Championship in May 2017, when he also fought back from seven shots behind on the final day.
 
Scotland's Russell Knox carded a final-round 65 earlier in the day to finish tied for second with Suri and Wood on six-under — enough to secure him a spot for the British Open at Carnoustie along with Kinhult and Suri.