Tiger Woods, the PGA Tour’s reigning Player of the Year, may soon be hearing footsteps from his European Tour counterpart, Henrik Stenson, who has his FootJoys striding toward the head of the world golf rankings.
A stellar 2013 season had the FedExCup and Race to Dubai titleholder marching to No. 3 in the world, the loftiest berth Stenson has attained in his career. But the 37-year-old Swede, playing in Qatar this week as Woods kicks off his new year at Torrey Pines, is far from content to rest on his laurels as he believes Adam Scott’s second position and Woods’ top spot are well within his reach.
"I think I'm in a position in the world rankings that if I really keep on playing well, I will have a chance to possibly, first, overtake Adam and then maybe challenge Tiger for the number one spot," Stenson said on Tuesday, ahead of the Qatar Masters, which starts on Wednesday night back in the U.S.
Stenson did not get off to the best of starts to his new season, having missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week. But that did not put any dent in the confidence of the golfer, who enters the week with one win (2006) and three runner-up finishes on the Doha Golf Club course.
"Last week was not quite what we wanted, but we had limited preparations and it feels like I'm starting to hit the ball a bit better," he said. "It feels like the game's heading in the right direction for sure. It was a bit rusty last week, and I'd say today was as good as I've hit it this side of Christmas, anyway."
While his legacy at Doha is hardly in the same league as Tiger’s eight victories at Torrey, Stenson noted that he could only play his own game and not worry about how Woods, Scott, and the rest of his competitors were performing. Make no mistake, though; Stenson was well aware that, should Woods fall off the pace of his five 2013 wins and stay the course (two FedExCup Ws in September, including the Tour Championship, plus a victory at the Euro Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship), a Swede could ascend to the top spot for the first time in men's golf.
"One part is down to what I do," Stenson said. "If I can keep my form going and playing good golf, and it's those elements that we can't control what the other guys are doing, and might even be somebody from behind going on a really hot streak and overtaking everybody."