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Henrik Stenson seeking to reclaim European top spot at Asian Open

World number 13 Henrik Stenson has two good reasons to perform well in this week’s $2.3 million Asian Open.

The Swede wants to reclaim top spot from Trevor Immelman on the European Tour order of merit after the South African’s win at the U.S. Masters and is keen to make amends after losing here to Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in a playoff in 2006.

“It is never fun to lose a playoff but I know I can play well at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club,” the big-hitting Stenson told the tour’s official Web site.

“I am very motivated to try and go one better this time.”

Among Stenson’s likely title rivals is twice U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.

The South African, who has dropped out of the world’s top 20 after an indifferent 2007, has shown glimpses of his best in recent weeks, tying for 17th at the Masters after finishing runner-up to Australian Geoff Ogilvy at the WGC-CA Championship in Miami.

Goosen has fond memories of the country, having claimed back-to-back wins at the China Masters in 2005 and 2006.

“I thoroughly enjoy playing in China and in front of the enthusiastic golf fans there,” he said.

“Tomson Pudong is a tough driving course, you need to drive straight. I enjoy playing it.”

Holder Raphael Jacquelin of France has returned to chase the first prize of 243,507 euros ($387,200) at the event jointly sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

Former world number one Greg Norman, 53, makes a rare European Tour appearance while India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Chapchai Nirat of Thailand lead a strong Asian contingent and local hope Liang Wenchong flies the flag for China.


April 23, 2008

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