Henrik Stenson - Sweden's finest

2015-11-06 10:19
Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson makes his sixth appearance in a Nedbank Golf Challenge where he has one of the most impressive records in the history of this tournament.

Since his debut in 2006 the Swede has never finished worse than fourth in “Africa’s Major”. His best finish of course was his victory in 2008 when he beat American Kenny Perry by a crushing nine strokes. It ranks in the pantheon of great victories in this tournament, led by Nick Price’s 12-shot victory in 1993.

Stenson described his 2008 triumph at the Gary Player Country Club as, “Definitely one of my greatest achievements”.

But the truth is that his ability to turn around a major slump in his career probably overshadows anything else.

Stenson was at the top of his game in 2009 and then dropped to 230th in the world at the start of 2012. Amidst the string of missed cuts and loss of form, Stenson also contracted a virus while on holiday in 2011 that sapped him of his energy.

“It was a big slump. They were really tough times. I was really lost with my game. I lost my confidence,” he told CNN.

“The most important thing I did was to start working on the long-term planning. When you are down and out, it’s so easy to go for short-term solutions. The quick fixes don’t work. I think you’ve got to put a plan in place and work towards it – slow but steady progress – and eventually you will get to the point where you want to get.”

Stenson reached that point in 2013. That year he finished second in the Open, third in the PGA Championship and then made history by becoming the first player to win both the FedEx Cup Series and the Race to Dubai in the same season. And he did so by winning the final tournaments on both Tours, which saw him coin this achievement as his “Double Double”.

But it’s Stenson’s grounded personality that has won him the most fans over the years. His sense of humour is almost as legendary as his skill with a golf club. When he went in FedEx Cup’s Tour Championship this year, he did so as the only player to have finished in the top 10 in the previous three FedEx Cup tournaments, and also the only player in the field to have won the FedEx Cup’s massive $10-million bonus before. So it stood to reason that he was easily one of the form players with a strong chance of victory.

But when asked by the media about his chances in a field containing Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, he said, “So I still have one more chance and it shouldn’t be too hard to wipe the floor with these guys this week, right? There’s no-one that’s playing great and is sky high on confidence and no-one with a bunch of Majors and no-one hits it 330 off the tee, so it shouldn’t be that hard.” He finished second that week.

It’s been another season of big earnings for Stenson, but having experienced both the highs and lows in this game, he has a unique perspective on this side of his career.

“Like someone said: ‘Money is only paper,’ right? It’s not really going to make you much more happy or extremely sad if you lose a bit.”


Born: April 5, 1976.

Turned pro: 1998.

Family: Wife – Emma. Children – Lisa, Karl, Alice.

Special interests: Music, movies, fishing, cars.

Career highlights: He was the first Swede to win a World Golf Championship event when he beat Geoff Ogilvy 2&1 in the final of the 2007 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Won the 2009 Players Championship. In 2013 he became the first player to win both the FedEx Cup series and the Race to Dubai in the same season.

2015 highlights: Had another consistent season, finishing second in the BMW International Open on the European Tour. Never missed a cut on the PGA Tour this year and finished runner-up four times for a second-place finish on the final FedEx Cup standings.

2015 Majors: The Masters – T19. The US Open – T27. The Open – T40. The PGA Championship – T25.

NGC record: Sixth appearance. 2006 – 2, 2007 – 4, 2008 – 1, 2009 – 2, 2014 – 4.

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