Henrik Stenson says he feels ready to win a major - and would dearly love that to happen at this week’s Open Championship.
The world No.2 finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson at Muirfield last year and, speaking exclusively to bunkered.co.uk, he revealed that he hopes to go one better this time around at Royal Liverpool.
“I’ve been up there enough times now to feel as though I can do it and I’ve won some pretty big tournaments over the years as well, which gives me some confidence,” said the Swede, who has finished no worse than seventh in his last five European Tour starts. “Whether or not it happens this week, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
“The key is putting yourself in a position for coming down the stretch on Sunday and that takes a lot of hard work and effort for the three-and-a-half days before it. But, yeah, of course you want to be one of those guys up near the top of the leaderboard coming down the back nine, because you never know what can happen on the back nine in the majors.”
Stenson admits that he now feels comfortable with his status as one of the top players in the game and, although he insists he doesn’t pay much attention to the world rankings, he does admit that he would like to get to the top of the tree one day.
“The world ranking is just a number, really,” said the 38-year-old. “Of course, I’d love to get to No.1 at some point in my career but that comes from playing even better than I have. I’ve had chances to get there before, by finishing here or there in different events, but you’d much rather get there by winning something, particularly something as big as the Open.”
"It’s the Open – there ought to be a bit of wind." - Henrik Stenson
After opting out of last week’s Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, Stenson- who won both the FedEx Cup and Race To Dubai last year - is feeling fresh and ready for what will be his tenth Open Championship appearance.
“I’m feeling good,” he noted. “I’m fairly happy with my game. I played a practice round on Saturday and feel like everything’s in good shape. I’ve had a decent season so far. Not in the same league as the last six months of last year but you can never expect to do that all the time. So, yeah, the year has been good so far and I’ve got another six months to make it really memorable, starting this week.”
Looking ahead to what’s in store this week, Stenson added that the key to performing well will be adapting to the conditions.
“It’s so weather dependent around here,” he revealed. “The wind is always the first defence on a links course and, of course, it can change so quickly. I looked at the long-term forecast last week and it said there wasn’t likely to be much wind. Now, they’re saying that it could get up a bit. But I don’t mind that. If anything, I think it suits me. The tougher the better. It will separate the field a little bit. Besides, it’s the Open – there ought to be a bit of wind. It doesn’t need to be a hurricane; just a one- to two-club wind to keep things honest.
“Beyond that, you’ve just got to do the usual things, like keep it out of the rough and out of the bunkers. The rough is pretty thick in places and you’ll struggle to reach any green in regulation if you miss the fairway. On the plus side, the greens are quite flat, arguably the flattest on the Open rota. They’re not too undulating. So, if you can get yourself on them, you’ll give yourself some decent chances. If you miss or come up short, you’ll could have some steep banks coming up onto them, so that’s the key really: hit the fairways, hit the greens.”
Can Henrik Stenson win the Open?
He’s been one of golf’s hottest players over the last 12 months but is this the week that Henrik Stenson claims his first major? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.