Stenson skipping Match Play with Masters in mind

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Henrik Stenson, whose bid to win the desert slam came up two shots short on Sunday, has taken a long look at this year’s schedule and decided to skip the WGC-Dell Match Play in March.

The fifth-ranked Swede – who closed with a 67 to tie for second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the only European Tour desert event he hasn’t won – told GolfChannel.com that he will not play the year’s first World Golf Championship in order to better prepare for the Masters.

“Unfortunately, when they shuffled the Match Play I needed a week off and I feel it’s beneficial to play the week before the Masters,” said Stenson, who will instead play the Shell Houston Open the week before the year’s first major.

The PGA Tour moved the Match Play, which was normally played in February on the West Coast, to March this year.

Stenson, who withdrew from next week’s Qatar Masters in order to give his surgically repaired right knee time to recovery, won the Match Play in 2007 and said he’s played the event every year he’s been eligible.