By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - World number six Henrik Stenson recovered from another horror start to card 69 in the second round of the DP World Tour Championship on Friday, although the Swede dismissed his chances of a third successive victory at the European Tour finale.
Stenson was among the favorites going into the Dubai tournament, having shot a combined 41-under to win back-to-back events on the Earth course from 2013 to go with three top-six finishes in his last six tour events.
However, a miserable first-round 77 appears to have quashed any hopes of a treble despite Friday's late renaissance.
"You've got have your mind in the right place if you're going to compete with the best and it hasn't really been there," Stenson told reporters.
That first round featured five dropped shots on the last four holes and included a triple bogey on the 16th hole as he twice found the water.
"It was all tactics really, shoot a bad score yesterday, be out first this morning and then I can spend the afternoon at the Atlantis (Hotel) with the kids," Stenson joked. "It went to plan."
The 39-year-old toiled early again in his second round, dropping four shots on the first five holes before he recovered to birdie six of seven holes and added another on 17 to card a three-under 69 for a two-over aggregate score of 146.
"I hit a couple of nice shots from eight onwards. Early on, I was hitting some horrific shots," he said.
"The course is much, much softer than we've seen before, unfortunately in terms of what I prefer. I would have liked the greens a lot firmer, because with these ridges to be able to feed them into the holes you need a bit of firmness."
The relentless nature of the modern European Tour means the new season starts with a pair of events in South Africa from Nov. 26 and the Swede will look to play in one of them.
"I'll try to leave (Dubai) with one or two positive things in terms of my game and my putting was better today," he added.
"There were some highlights with the striking as well, so I'll just try to finish with some good scores, some good swings and putts."
(Editing by John O'Brien)