Henrik Stenson showed yet again why he is so highly regarded in the game of golf, with a fine final round 66 at the US PGA Championship, to finish just two shots off eventual winner Rory McIlroy at Valhalla Golf Club.
The Swede came into the final day knowing he needed something special to challenge a world class leading pack that included Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, in addition to Open Champion McIlroy.
A sensational front nine, which saw last year’s Race to Dubai Number One go out in only 30 shots, helped move the Swede into a tie for the lead, but the 38 year old could not quite keep pace with the World Number One as the back nine action drew to a thrilling climax.
“I got off to a great start, hit some great shots, made some great putts,” said Stenson. “Then I made a bomb on nine and I really had the momentum going.
“I thought I needed a back nine similar to my front nine to pull it off, but I just didn't have it. I had one half of it, not two. Still, I'm just very happy with the progress I made with my game in the last ten days. I'll get more chances, I'm not worried about that.”
Although Stenson’s search for a first Major Championship goes on, he can take plenty of heart from an impressive week in Kentucky, with rounds of 66-71-67-66 seeing the European star finish in a tie for third alongside Fowler, at 14 under par.
At one point, with McIlroy looking beatable, Stenson held the lead with both Fowler and Mickelson, in what was one of the most enthralling final rounds of golf seen at a Major Championship in some time.
“There were a lot of roars being thrown back and forth and a lot of birdies being made,” said Stenson. “It must have been a great championship to watch on television or to be out there watching it live. And to think I was part of it, I'm happy with that.”
Another good finish in a big event will give Stenson a great amount of confidence as he gets ready to take part in another massive event late next month, The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
That might present Stenson the chance to play with man of the moment and the world’s best golfer, Rory McIlroy – someone the Gothenburg native was full of praise for.
“He's on a roll at the moment,” said Stenson. “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. He deserves so much credit.”