Henrik Stenson is looking to seize the opportunity that Tiger Woods’ absence presents him and claim the American’s number one ranking spot.
Stenson is currently in possession of the number three spot in the world, despite not finding his best form on the tour so far this season, and he admits that he will never have a better shot of reaching the top of the pile than now.
He said, to golf365.com: “I'll never get a better chance than what I have now (to reach number one) but it will take some good golf.
“I'm right on track. I didn't play that great early on last year anyway.
"I feel like I played pretty well at the Masters but didn't get it together as well as it could have been. I'm happy with where I'm at with my game."
The Swede’s first chance to prove that he is the best golfer in the world will come at the Volvo China Open on Thursday, where he is the favourite to win the event.
However, his preparation for the event has been negatively affected by the illness he has been suffering. The 38-year-old had been bed-ridden with flu earlier in the week and was forced to withdraw from the Pro-Am, which was scheduled for the Wednesday prior to the event’s start date.
He will also have to beat off some talented rivals if he is to be victorious in China. The likes of Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts are also scheduled to play at the Shenzhen Genzon Golf Club, meaning that success is certainly not a guarantee.
His form is also not particularly encouraging. Despite a brilliant back-end to the 2013 season, Stenson is yet to finish in a top ten at an event since the turn of the calendar year, although his performance did improve at the Masters – where he finished in tied 14th spot – a fortnight ago.
The good thing for Stenson, is that he may have longer than expected to gain some ground on Woods and capitalise on his injury problems. Woods had initially targeted a brief spell out of the game, after undergoing an operation on a pinned nerve in his back at the start of the month, but it appears that his comeback has not gone as smoothly as planned.
Indeed, quotes from his close friend and former PGA Tour professional Notah Begay seemed to suggest that Woods was likely to miss the second major of the year, the US Open, and may not return until 12th of July at the Open Championships.
If this is to be the case then Stenson will be amongst the leading contenders to take his mantle, without question. As it stands only Adam Scott stands between him and the 14-time major champion’s top-spot.
If he is to close the gap, though, and jump to the top of the golfing ladder, then he will need to start picking up ranking points quickly and this week, in China, certainly wouldn’t be a bad place to start doing so.
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