Stenson braves Dubai heat

European Tour

Henrik Stenson posted a superb 66 to take a two stroke lead at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Friday.

The Swede’s scintillating six under 66 puts him two strokes ahead of world number one Rory McIlroy after two rounds at a hot and sticky Jumeirah Golf Estate.

Stenson started off strong with birdies on the first two holes, but he was pegged back by a bogey on the par three fourth. However, the world number four bounced back immediately with a birdie on the fifth and would go on to birdie four more holes, including the 18th for a great round.

“There’s still a lot of golf to play and I’m really happy with how I closed this round,” the 36-year-old told europeantour.con.

“Around the 12th hole I felt like I was running out of steam. It was difficult mentally from there on. I had to really focus hard and drag myself over the finish line.

“It’s hot and sticky and even though I’m drinking well and getting plenty of energy, I just felt like I hit the wall on 12. If it’s one or two holes left, you normally feel like, ‘okay, I can hang on’. But it was a bit of an uphill (struggle) from there. I managed to finish in good style anyway so I’m pleased with that.”

Meanwhile, McIlroy could not continue the momentum from his first round 66 and carded a slightly disappointing two under 70 to slip off the front of the star-studded field. However, he remains positive.

“I’m in a good position and there is a lot of golf left,” revealed the Northern Irishman.

“I’ve definitely been in worse positions after two rounds and still won. It could have been worse but it probably could have been a little better. I definitely didn’t have it like I did yesterday. I had to dig in a little bit so hopefully that’s the bad one out of the way and I have 36 holes now to make some ground up on Henrik.

“Henrik’s very comfortable on this golf course obviously. I can’t let him get too far ahead tomorrow. I have to get off to a fast start and try and put a bit of pressure on him. Hopefully I can do that.”

Also in the hunt for victory in the desert are Richie Ramsay and Danny Willet, who are tied second with McIlroy on eight under. Englishman Justin Rose is with a host of other players tied on seven under for the tournament.

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