Open champ Henrik Stenson has stomach for Florida fight

Scotland's Scott Jamieson in front of one of the rock formations at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Scotland's Scott Jamieson in front of one of the rock formations at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
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Open champion Henrik Stenson has not fully recovered from the stomach virus which forced him out of the WGC-Mexico Championship as he seeks a first win of the season in the Valspar Championship.

Stenson was one of several players to be taken ill in Mexico City and withdrew from the £7.9million event after 12 holes of his opening round at Chapultepec Golf Club.

But the 41-year-old Swede is looking forward to returning to action at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida, where he was fourth in 2015 – a shot outside the three-man play-off – and 11th last year.

“It’s good to be back,” said the world number six, who has finished runner-up three times and recorded three other top-nine finishes in his last six completed events.

“It’s a golf course I think suits my game pretty well as the two previous visits have shown, and I hope I can be there on Sunday with a chance to win.

“It’s a second-shot golf course. It’s the five, six, seven, eight irons into the greens, and when I’m hitting it well, then that’s the strong part of my game. So it’s going to set up a lot of birdie chances.

“It’s the beginning of a stretch of tournaments leading into Augusta, so we want to try to get to the Masters in the right direction with where the game is at and what we need to keep on working on leading into the first major of the year.”

Stenson added: “I’m not 100 per cent. If you have a stomach upset or bug, it takes a 
little while to complete. I’m eating some probiotics, and we can still feel a little rumbling here and there. I don’t think we need to go into more details than that.

“Unfortunately it was a lot of players, caddies and other people around that got upset stomachs last week. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Stenson will play the first two rounds alongside defending champion Charl Schwartzel and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, with Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed drawn alongside 2018 US captain Jim Furyk and Ernie Els.

In New Delhi, home favourite and former champion Anirban Lahiri says the players face a journey into the unknown following a change of venue for the Hero Indian Open.

The tournament is at the Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club for the first time after moving across the city from its former home at Delhi Golf Club. The course features large rock formations, undulating greens and cavernous bunkers.

“It’s a blank sheet for everyone,” said Lahiri, who won the title in 2015 and was second to SSP Chawrasia last year. “Nobody really knows what to expect. The dynamics of it is very different from Delhi Golf Club. You do need length, to be able to control the ball in the wind. It’s going to need a lot more versatility. I keep saying it’s a ball-striker’s golf course.

Lahiri needs to be in the top two to qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and he added: “My primary target is obviously Augusta but yes I would love to play the Match Play. I played Austin Country Club last year and I really liked the golf course.