Stenson plays down chances

2015-04-07 21:45
Henrik Stenson (AFP)

Augusta  - Henrik Stenson may be ranked second in the world and seen by many just a week ago as a potential winner of the Masters, but the Swede sounded downbeat on Tuesday at Augusta National.

The problem was an infection he picked up in the buildup to the year's first major that has left him feeling washed out.

"Yeah, coming off a pretty good run at the last three tournaments on the PGA Tour there with a fourth in Doral and Tampa and second in Bay Hill," he said.

"Game was in good shape and had a bit of a spring break with the family and then got the flu.

"So, yeah, I guess the lead-in wasn't exactly what I was planning. I had to pull out of Houston last week and just be home and try and recover.

"I'm getting better, slowly but surely. Never as quick as you hope, but I guess it's known that I was pretty much down and out there for four days.

"We should get better as we go along. I'm just trying to conserve a bit of energy as the week progresses and hopefully have some left on the weekend when you need it the most."

Complicating the task facing 39-year-old Stenson is the fact that he has yet to fully get to grips with the special demands Augusta National places on players.

He has come close to winning in the three other majors -- without actually doing so -- but in nine appearances at Augusta National his best showing is a tie for 14th last year.

It's a record that has left the Swede scratching his head for answers as he believes the course actually suits his game.

"Possibly I don't feel like out of those nine previous appearances, I've never really gotten here with a game that felt like I'm playing really well at the moment," he said.

"In previous years, I've had some poor weeks on the greens here, and as we know, it's a very difficult week on the greens.

"And if you're not putting good or better than good, you're going to struggle to have a good finish here. So I think that's one part of it, too."

Still, Stenson believes that with his lowered expectations, if he can get off to a strong start on Thursday he could yet post a challenge.

"It was better to be sick last week than this week because if I would have had what I had last week this week, I wouldn't be here today," he said.

"So it's just to take the rough with the smooth and try to make the best out of it."

Groups for Thursday's opening round of the 79th Masters golf tournament at par-72 Augusta National:

13:45: Charley Hoffman (USA), Brian Harman (USA)
13:56: Larry Mize (USA), Danny Willett (ENG), Byron Meth (USA)
14:07: Tom Watson (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Camilo Villegas (COL)
14:18: Mike Weir (CAN), Ben Crane (USA), Corey Conners (CAN)
14:29: Vijay Singh (FIJ), Russell Henley (USA), Darren Clarke (NIR)
14:40: Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP), Brendon Todd (USA), Kevin Na (KOR)
14:51: Jonas Blixt (SWE), Kevin Streelman (USA), Stephen Gallacher (SCO)
15:02: Patrick Reed (USA), Keegan Bradley (USA), Ian Poulter (ENG)
15:13: Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Lee Westwood (ENG), Anirban Lahiri (IND)
15:24: Bubba Watson (USA), Justin Rose (ENG), Yang Gunn (KOR)
15:35: Adam Scott (AUS), Dustin Johnson (USA), Antonio Murdaca (AUS)
15:46: OPEN
15:57: Morgan Hoffmann (USA), Steve Stricker (USA), Matt Every (USA)
16:08: Ben Crenshaw (USA), Bill Haas (USA), Jason Dufner (USA)
16:19: Webb Simpson (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Paul Casey (ENG)
16:30: Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Joost Luiten (NED), Bae Sang-Moon (KOR)
16:41: Phil Mickelson (USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Ryan Moore (USA)
16:52: J.B. Holmes (USA), Martin Kaymer (GER), Brandt Snedeker (USA)
17:03: Ian Woosnam (WAL), Erik Compton (USA), Marc Leishman (AUS)
17:14: Trevor Immelman (RSA), Kevin Stadler (USA), Scott Harvey (USA)
17:25: Ben Martin (USA), Robert Streb (USA), Cameron Tringale (USA)
17:36: Sandy Lyle (SCO), Noh Seung-Yul (KOR), Bradley Neil (SCO)
17:47: Bernhard Langer (GER), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Geoff Ogilvy (AUS)
17:58: OPEN
18:09: Zach Johnson (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Ernie Els (RSA)
18:20: Angel Cabrera (ARG), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Matias Dominguez (CHI)
18:31: Mark O'Meara (USA), Chris Kirk (USA), Shane Lowry (IRL)
18:42: Padraig Harrington (IRL), Ryan Palmer (USA), Thomas Bjorn (DEN)
18:53: James Hahn (KOR), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Hunter Mahan (USA)
19:04: Matt Kuchar (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Graeme McDowell (NIR)
19:15: Jordan Spieth (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Billy Horschel (USA)
19:26: Fred Couples (USA), Branden Grace (RSA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
19:37: Luke Donald (ENG), Victor Dubuisson (FRA), John Senden (AUS)
19:48: Tiger Woods (USA), Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Jimmy Walker (USA)
19:59: Jason Day (AUS), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Rickie Fowler (USA)

Read more on:    pga tour  |  masters  |  henrik stenson  |  golf

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