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Stenson's South Africa Open victory helps ease Dubai drama

(Reuters) - Sweden's Henrik Stenson claimed the South African Open at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Sunday, helping him to qualify for the lucrative DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Heading into the event, Stenson was 59th in the Race to Dubai rankings and knew he could be in danger of missing out if he could not produce a good enough result this week.

The victory also ended a five-year drought of European Tour wins with Stenson's last success coming back in 2007. He won on the U.S. Tour in 2009.

Stenson had to fight off South African local George Coetzee to lift the trophy after he pushed for overall honors right up until the 15th hole of the final round.

A mistake from Coetzee handed Stenson the initiative and birdies on 16 and 17 secured the win by three shots, boosting his Race to Dubai ranking up to a much safer 45.

"It was great that I came down here," Stenson told www.europeantour.com.

"One of the bigger reasons was I was 59th in The Race to Dubai standings and I needed a good week.

"I played well to shoot 17 under par around here in these windy conditions. It was playing a lot harder today."

The European Tour's season-ending championship in Dubai begins at the Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday with defending champion Alvaro Quiros looking to retain his crown from favorite Rory McIlroy who finished first in this season's Race to Dubai standings.

(Reporting By Mark Pangallo; editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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