Rory McIlroy was left to rue an opening 75, his only over-par score in the tournament’s history, as he missed out on a fourth win of the season.
“If I had just shot something around level par, one under, I would have been right in the tournament,” the world number two said.
“But these things happen and I played well for the remaining three days and at least redeemed myself a little bit.”
Stenson began the week 299,675 points ahead of Danny Willett and made certain of ending the year as European number one with a closing 65 matched by playing partner and defending champion Rory McIlroy.
That left the Ryder Cup team-mates in a share of ninth place, with Willett tied for 50th in the 60-man field after a closing 70.
Sweden’s Alex Noren, who was the other player capable of ending the season on top of the money list, was joint 23rd.
Matthew Fitzpatrick may have had trouble getting to Jumeirah Golf Estates, but once here, he seems to be at home on the Earth course.
The 22-year-old, a global ambassador of ‘Golf in Dubai’, shot a six-under par 66 in the third round of the DP World Tour Championship to get to within one shot of the outright leader after 54 holes – Victor Dubuisson.
The Frenchman, enjoying a revival in form, shot an eight-under par 64, which included four birdies in his final five holes, to surge one clear of Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Nicolas Colsaerts at 13-under par 203.
On Monday, while coming from the official hotel Atlantis to the golf course, the driver of Fitzpatrick’s courtesy car took a wrong turn and got lost. A journey that should have taken half an hour, turned into a two-hour adventure for the youngster from Sheffield.
On Saturday, he did lose his way briefly on the golf course, a bogey on the ninth hole followed by a double on the 13th threatening to derail an excellent start that saw him reach six-under after eight holes, but three birdies in his last five holes ensured he was on the right track for a third title in two short years as a professional.
A satisfied Fitzpatrick said: “I played a fantastic front nine. Just lost a little bit in the middle of the round, but sort of kept grinding for the final five holes.
“It’s where everyone wants to be on Sunday…to give yourself a chance of winning. For me, just to keep putting myself in these positions, it’s a great experience. I’ll be one behind going into the final round, I’m sure that could change, but hopefully a 66 tomorrow could be all right.”
The round contained a stunning putt for eagle – one that tracked for 78 long feet straight inside the cup, as if attached to a GPS.
“It was a long putt alright…and it looked like travelling a lot further, because I think it was going off the green and down to the next tee if it had missed the hole,” said the youngster who made his Ryder Cup debut this year.
“Fortunately, it smashed the hole and went right in the middle. Yeah, I was pretty relived that one went in.”
Dubuisson had an equally amazing eagle – his coming on the par-4 fifth hole. The Frenchman hit a wedge shot from 108 yards and let it roll back with the slope into the hole.
Dubuisson, whose two previous wins are the 2013 and 2015 Turkish Airlines Open, also made seven birdies. The world No93 finished third last week in Sun City and has two top-three finishes in DP World Tour Championship, clearly showing a liking for Final Series events.
“It’s a great score. It’s my best score to date. I’ve played well, made the good putts at the right time,” said Dubuisson, who has had a tough season on the European Tour this year.
“I like to play well in the big tournaments. There is more focus. I’d rather win big tournaments than finish in top-10s in smaller ones.”
Rafael Cabrera-Bello shot the lowest round of the tournament, a nine-under par 63 and moved to 11-under par, tied fifth alongside overnight leader Francesco Molinari and England’s Lee Westwood at 11-under par.