Neighbours in Florida but competitors in Race to Dubai
BELEK, Turkey // With two Race to Dubai events remaining, the goal of being European No 1 will be fought between four neighbours.
The leading four golfers in the Race to Dubai – Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and the England duo of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter – all are residents of the Lake Nona community in Orlando, Florida. The four play practice rounds together, and their respective families mix socially.
That neighbourly love will be forgotten over the next two weeks.
Stenson continues to lead the Race to Dubai over McDowell, Rose and Poulter, with 542,524 points separating first from fourth position. Points are basically equal to euros.
Any of the Lake Nona residents could end the year as No 1, given that there is a first-prize cheque of Euro 858,364 (Dh4.22m) up for grabs at this week’s inaugural Turkish Airlines Open and then Euro 1.1m on offer as the top prize in next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Dubai.
“We all practice and play at Lake Nona, so that’s what is really bizarre now about the Race to Dubai,” Stenson said. “When I’m back home at Lake Nona, I’m always bumping into Ian and Justin, and I’ve been up to GMac’s [McDowell] bistro a couple of times, so it’s a close-knit community.”
McDowell is not playing in Turkey after finishing third at Shanghai last week to bridge the gap on the Swede to 123,554 points.
Stenson is looking to make the most of the former US Open winner’s absence, and if the Swede ends the year as European No 1, he said he would gladly pick up the dinner tab at McDowell’s Nona Blue Bistro, located just a 9-iron from the front gates of the Lake Nona development.
“I’ve had the GMac cheeseburger that’s on the menu,” Stenson said. “I also like the chicken nuggets he has there, as they’re really good.
“I’ve now been there twice. Once I was a guest of the house and once I paid, and if GMac wins the Race to Dubai, then for sure, he will be paying. If I win, then I would be happy to pick up the tab.
“The good thing is that I won the PGA Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup, so if I can do what I did in Atlanta, then I would be very pleased.
“I see that whatever does happen in Turkey, it will still come down to what happens next week in Dubai.”
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Published: November 5, 2013 04:00 AM