Stenson targets victory at Florida championship

Swede seeks to emulate Spieth last year in kickstarting winning season at Valspar

Henrik Stenson, who underwent knee surgery in December,  confirmed he would miss the WGC-Dell Matchplay in a fortnight’s time in order to rest ahead of the Masters. Photograph:  Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Henrik Stenson, who underwent knee surgery in December, confirmed he would miss the WGC-Dell Matchplay in a fortnight’s time in order to rest ahead of the Masters. Photograph: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

 

Ryder Cup star Henrik Stenson would love to take a leaf from Jordan Spieth’s book by kickstarting his season with victory in the Valspar Championship.

Stenson finished runner-up six times worldwide in 2015 and was also fourth on his debut at Innisbrook resort and golf club, just one shot outside of the three-man playoff between Spieth, Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair.

Spieth emerged victorious on the third extra hole to move up to sixth in the world and claim what was just his second PGA Tour title at the time, a win he followed with further triumphs in the Masters, US Open, John Deere Classic and Tour Championship.

Great finish

“Of course, that’s always the goal for Sundays. It was a pretty close chance last year so, yeah, we’ll see. I can’t say I’m coming in with the same great finish at Doral that I had last year (fourth last year, 28th last week) so I might have to work a little bit more on my game this week . . . I think it’s a good golf course for me. I played it for the first time last year and got to hit some good iron shots into the greens and that seems to suit my game pretty well.”

Stenson, who will play the first two rounds alongside world number one Spieth and Bill Haas, underwent knee surgery in December and confirmed he would miss the WGC-Dell Matchplay in a fortnight’s time in order to rest ahead of the Masters.

Limped out

Spieth started 2016 with an eight-shot win in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and was fifth in Abu Dhabi and second in Singapore, but missed the cut in the Northern Trust Open and was never in contention in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, finishing 17th.

There are three Irish players – Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke – in the field.

Harrington returns to action after missing out on the WGC- Cadillac and – ranked 130th in the world – he needs a win if he is to earn his ticket to the US Masters.

He also needs to break into the top 64 available players off the world rankings (next Monday) if he is earn a place in the field for the Dell Matchplay

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