SHANGHAI (AFP) – The European Tour’s flagship event in China suffered a new blow Tuesday when it was confirmed that Henrik Stenson had withdrawn after the birth of his third child.
The $7 million BMW Masters, which begins at Lake Malaren on Thursday, was already reeling from world number one Rory McIlroy’s decision last week to pull out.
It lost another of its big stars in the Swede, who last year won both the USPGA Tour’s Fedex Cup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings.
Stenson’s wife Emma gave birth to baby Alice in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and the Swede, who is third in the Race to Dubai standings, has understandably decided to remain in the States.
He is now expected to travel to Shanghai for next week’s World Golf Championships HSBC Champions tournament at Sheshan Golf Club after spending a week with the newest addition to the Stenson family and his other two children, seven-year-old Lisa and four-year-old Karl.
“No 3 has arrived!!” Stenson posted on his Facebook page along with a picture of him holding the baby.
“Alice was born Sunday afternoon! Mommy did great! Lisa and Karl seems to be pretty happy with the new addition.”
McIlroy declared a week ago that he was taking time away from golf to deal better with the multi-million dollar legal dispute he has with his former management company.
“I’m going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management,” said McIlroy.
The hearing is set to take place in February and McIlroy will not play again until next month’s season-ending tournament in Dubai.
With world number four Sergio Garcia opting to play only at next week’s event in Shanghai it means the top three in the “Race to Dubai” standings are missing as the first of the “Final Four” season-ending series of big money events begins on Thursday.
The field still boasts seven of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, led by world number six Justin Rose of England.
He is joined by team-mates Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Graeme McDowell, Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter in the 78-man starting line-up.
The other two absentees from the victorious Ryder Cup team are US Open champion Martin Kaymer of Germany and Lee Westwood of England.