After Rory McIlroy grinded out a one-shot victory in the PGA Championship yesterday, Henrik Stenson believes the Northern Irishman has the potential to have as big an impact on golf as Tiger Woods did in his prime.
Speaking after his third-place finish at Valhalla, the world No.3 couldn’t rule out McIlroy winning a major every year for the next five years, and likened his stamp on the game to the Tiger of old.
“It's always hard to compare players,” said the Swede. “If he's not the same, he's not far behind. He's got every opportunity to move on from here on.
“If I told you that if he were to win at least one major in the next five or seven years every year, you wouldn't be surprised, would you?
“He's got opportunity to do that. It's up to him, and how hard we can try to make it not happen.”
"He is the best player in the world and just playing phenomenal golf." - Henrik Stenson
The 2013 Race to Dubai champion saw first-hand how McIlroy stayed calm under pressure and fought back to win his fourth major title after falling behind early in the final round.
After competing so intensely with the young 25-year-old, Stenson feels McIlroy’s mental game, shown throughout his last three consecutive victories, is key to his success.
“He's on a roll,” said the 38-year-old. “He is the best player in the world and just playing phenomenal golf. He's got the confidence.
“I think more than anything you see that when you get off to a bad start or bad hole or two, when you've got that confidence, you can make birdie on the next or eagle the next. You can come back.”
Henrik Stenson pleased with progression
Henrik Stenson's recent form
Although he didn’t come away with the trophy, Henrik Stenson leaves Valhalla with renewed confidence for the remainder of the season and the Ryder Cup next month.
“I’m just very happy with the progress I made with my game in the last ten days,” he said.
For all his good form over the years, Stenson has never tasted major glory. However, he is sure his time will come if he remains patient.
“I'll get more chances. I'm not worried,” he said afterwards.