SHANGHAI: Henrik Stenson remains in pole position to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai with just two events remaining this season but he now has top class company breathing right down his neck.
Two mid-pack finishes in China have seen the Swede’s comfortable lead over second-placed Graeme McDowell at the top of the money list whittled down to just under 146,000 points after the Northern Irishman’s third-place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
England’s Justin Rose is in third place, just over 325,000 points adrift after finishing fifth on Sunday, with fellow Englishman Ian Poulter in fourth after his runner’s-up finish in Shanghai.
With Stenson, Rose and Poulter all moving on to Turkey for the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open, which begins in Thursday, it is all to play for.
McDowell is skipping Turkey, but all four Ryder Cup stars will be at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai the following week when a further $8 million is up for grabs.
Poulter was the defending champion at the WGC-HSBC Champions, which came hard on the heels of the BMW Masters, also in Shanghai.
But he came up just short as Dustin Johnson beat him by three strokes courtesy of a superb eagle-birdie knockout blow at the 16th and 17th holes in the final round.
Poulter also revealed he had challenged Stenson to a side bet on the outcome of the Race to Dubai before the Shanghai swing. “He gave me odds of 10-1 that I wouldn’t beat him,” said Poulter.
“I told him I was going to hunt him down,” he added, smiling. “I think the odds are a lot less now.”
McDowell knew a win or second place at the WGC event could have seen him pass Stenson and felt he missed out on the chance.
“There is a pang of disappointment but I am proud of the way I played, tee to green especially,” McDowell said.