ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Following knee surgery on Dec. 9 Henrik Stenson wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, but he was certainly going to try.
After being cleared by his doctor on Jan. 5 to start hitting golf balls again he was quickly sent back to the sidelines by an ailing neck and arrived in the United Arab Emirates having walked just nine holes.
In fact, his first 18-hole round walking wasn’t until Wednesday’s pro-am at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“The pro-am yesterday was definitely a key round,” he said. “If I would have struggled it would have been a big question mark ... I’m not out of the woods yet.”
Perhaps, but he is in the hunt after an opening-round 65 left him a stroke behind front-runner Bryson DeChambeau.
“Not too bad on one leg,” he smiled after his round.
It’s even more impressive considering the Swede has missed the cut in three of his last four starts in Abu Dhabi and is the only Middle East event on the European Tour he’s never won.
It’s a dramatic contrast to his finishes at the Dubai Desert Classic (which he won in 2007), DP World Tour Championship (2013 and ’14) and Qatar Masters (2006).
“It would be nice to get this one and get the full circuit,” said Stenson, who lived in Dubai for nearly a decade earlier in his career.