Henrik Stenson strengthened his grip on the Race to Dubai title by claiming the lead at the halfway stage of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Stenson carded a second-round 64 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates yesterday to finish 12 under par, one shot ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Canizares who added a 67 to his opening 66.
The 37-year-old is looking to become the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same season and is on course to clinch them both in the same imperious fashion.
He went into the Tour Championship in September as one of five players who could claim the FedEx Cup by winning the tournament, and did exactly that to take the $10 million.
And this week the Swede is one of three players in similar control of their own destiny, knowing that a win tomorrow would secure overall victory in the Race to Dubai, status as European No 1 and another million dollar bonus.
Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell can still deny Stenson the title with victory here, with Rose best placed on seven under after a 67 and McDowell four under after a 68.
A win for Ian Poulter would leave Stenson needing to finish second to claim the Harry Vardon trophy, with Poulter alongside Rose on seven under following a 68.
“I have my game plan cemented on this course and it’s been working out great the first two days,” said Stenson, who carded eight birdies and no bogeys.
“It could have been a bit better but there is no point being greedy. I am delighted with the first two days’ work.
“I keep track of what’s happening with the other players, I’m too curious not to. I saw both Justin and Ian are seven under so they are chasing me as hard as they can.
“They are not going to back down so I better keep my foot and my head down, play another two good rounds and see where that takes me.
“I am in a great position to have a shot at winning and hopefully I will be there on Sunday afternoon.”
Stenson admitted that he is battling fatigue from a long season as well as an ongoing wrist injury, but added: “The two days I had off on Monday and Tuesday have helped. I got the club stuck in the ground on the sixth tee and felt it there but thankfully I don’t think that made it flare up.”
Canizares has won just once on the European Tour – the Russian Open in 2006 – however he boosted his chances of a second title with a brilliant par save on the 18th.
Rose and Poulter have not given up their pursuit of Stenson, but Rose admitted the 7,600-yard course is “tailor-made” for the likes of Stenson and defending champion Rory McIlroy thanks to their length off the tee.
McIlroy had eagle putts on all four par 5s and made one on the 14th in a 67 that left the former world No 1 six off the pace on six under.
“I think somewhere around 20 under par will win so I will need a couple of 65s,” said McIlroy, who shot back-to-back rounds of 66 to win here 12 months ago.
“I finally feel I have got to the stage now when I can contend week in, week out and on the rare times I have got into contention this year I feel like I have played my best golf.”
The man McIlroy succeeded as European No 1, Luke Donald, is a shot further back after a 66 that contained six birdies in succession from the second.