Henrik Stenson is hoping to fill the only void on his otherwise illustrious CV with victory in this week’s Open Championship.
The Swede has come close to getting his hands on the Claret Jug on three occasions, recording top three finishes in 2008, 2010 and, most notably, last year, when he was only denied a maiden Major triumph by the final day brilliance of American Phil Mickelson.
That runner-up finish sparked a scintillating run of form which culminated in Stenson winning both The Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup on the US PGA Tour, an unprecedented achievement.
And whilst he is justifiably proud of becoming the first man in history to achieve that transatlantic double, Stenson feels that his career may remain unfulfilled should he not furnish his trophy cabinet with either the Claret Jug, a Green Jacket, the Wannamaker trophy or the US Open trophy.
He said: “I grew up watching this tournament, and it was one of my boyhood dreams to win The Open Championship. That dream hasn’t gone away. It’s the last thing on my CV to more or less make it complete, in my eyes. So I will try my hardest to make it happen.
“I’ve had some good results in this Championship. It’s all about hard work, putting yourself up there and hoping your name will be up around the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. If I can play well enough, stick to my game plan, stay patient and get the odd good bounce here and there, I hope to be there or thereabouts on Sunday.
“It would mean the world to me to win this Championship. If it doesn’t happen this year, then I’ll be back next year to try again. I’m not going to get greedy, I’ll take any of the Majors – but of course winning The Open would be the icing on the cake.”
Stenson has been a model of consistency in recent weeks, finishing inside the top ten in his last five appearances on The European Tour, a run of results which included a tied runner-up finish in his last tournament, the BMW International Open.
And whilst the 38 year old is yet to add to his 12 victories worldwide so far this season, confidence is understandably high after his purple patch.
He said: “I’m fairly happy with my form. It can always be better, but I’ve been playing well. It hasn’t been as good a season as the end of last year, but you can’t expect to play like that all the time. I think I’ve had four or five top fives coming into this tournament, so it’s been pretty consistent. But it’d be nice to get that win on the board – and this week would be a good place to start.”
Stenson will have double Major Champion Angel Cabrera and World Number Two Tiger Woods for company over the first two days at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, which last hosted The Open in 2006 – when Woods successfully defended the Claret Jug.
Far from being overawed, however, Stenson is relishing the prospect of being drawn with the 14-time Major Champion and, to prove how at ease he is with the pairing, the jovial Swede even found the time to employ the dry wit for which he is renowned.
He said: “I think he [Woods] would have had a lot of sleepless nights of late after being paired with me. When did the draw come out? He looked tired, didn’t he?
“We’ve played together a lot, I’ve had some good success playing against him and managed to beat him a couple of times. So I’ll try and play my game as well as I can, and hope I can come out on top again. But he’s just one of the guys I need to beat if I want to do well this week. It’s a good start if I can beat him, but there are some other pretty decent players here as well.”