Sports

Armed with confidence

Open champion Stenson's got that winning feeling and he likes it

Henrik Stenson believes his unexpected British Open victory can be the springboard for a sustained run of success.

Stenson had arrived at Troon last week regarded as an outsider for the title, after a frustrating run at the Majors that culminated in his withdrawal from last month's US Open after playing 16 holes of his second round in 10-over par.

But the 40-year-old Swede stormed to his first Major crown with rounds of 68, 65 and 68, followed by a joint-record 63 on Sunday to hold off a strong challenge from Phil Mickelson in a stunning final 18 holes that gripped the imagination of the sporting world.

Having climbed to fifth in the new world rankings, Stenson, who had only a handful of top-four finishes at the Majors on his CV, hopes this is the beginning of a lengthy spell in contention for the sport's top prizes.

"We're only just getting started, aren't we?" he said.

Speaking 24 hours after becoming only the second player to finish a Major in 20-under par, the Swede said: "You never know once you open the floodgates what might happen.

"We've got a big schedule this summer. It's the PGA in a week's time (at Baltusrol) and then the Olympics. I was going to have a nice couple of relaxed days back home with the family, but it's all good things that will happen.

"And of course I'm going to be out there trying my hardest in a week's time at the PGA."

BEST MOMENT

Stenson didn't have long to celebrate lifting the Claret Jug before flying to Switzerland early on Monday morning to take part in Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia's charity event.

But he found time to reflect on the best moment of his career.

"In the last 15-18 months, I had a lot of great opportunities," he said.

"I didn't finish the job the way I wanted and a few of them it was a couple of youngsters from America (Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler) who did some good stuff and denied me the wins, in particular in 2015.

"So the win in Germany a couple of weeks ago was huge to get one over the finish line.

"You feel the pressure coming in and, with not having won for a while, that always kind of builds up. It was great to get that win there."

His success on the fairways of Troon was a far cry from the time four years ago when Stenson had slumped to 230th in the world rankings.

Add in the loss of millions of dollars in disgraced financier Allen Stanford's Ponzi scheme in 2009, as well as some serious health problems - including one caused by a parasite picked up on holiday - and Stenson's recovery is all the more remarkable.

"The second slump in my career was nothing compared to the one I had in the early 2000s," he added.

"I managed to put my game together with a lot of hard work and a lot of help from my team and support from my family, friends and everyone else.

"If I didn't believe, I wouldn't be sitting here. It's a dream come true." - AFP.


Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better — he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen.

— Jack Nicklaus

sportgolfSTENSON