Stenson success boosts Ryder Cup hopes

24/09/2013 12:21:09
Henrik Stenson  (Getty Images)
Henrik Stenson (Getty Images)

Henrik Stenson’s stunning run of form, culminating in success in the US PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and Tour Championship, has propelled the popular Swede firmly into the reckoning for next year’s European Ryder Cup team.

The 37 year old is back up to fourth on the latest Official World Golf Ranking – equalling his career high – and tops the European Ryder Cup World Points List, having completed a remarkable renaissance over the past 12 months.

Stenson dropped as low as 230th in February 2012 as he struggled with his game and health, but after winning the South African Open Championship at the tail-end of the last season, his subsequent rise has been a meteoric one during the current campaign.

A share of third place in the Aberdeen asset Management Scottish Open was followed up by runner-up finishes in The Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, third place in the US PGA Championship and victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

He then became the first European to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup on the US PGA Tour, and he will be The Race to Dubai leader will be aiming for similar success on The European Tour next month when he embarks on the inaugural Final Series which climaxes at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates, from November 14-17.

Further ahead, Stenson has his sights set on returning to The Ryder Cup fold, which takes place in exactly one year’s time, having established a commanding lead in the World Points list.

He has already amassed 136.84 points, and should his fine form continue, but the end of the season he could surpass the 172.26 points accumulated two years ago by the final player to make the European team from the World Points List in 2012, Germany’s Martin Kaymer.

Stenson last played for Europe in The 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club, memorably partnering Oliver Wilson in a gusty fightback to defeat Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim 2 & 1 in Foursomes.

But it was his debut appearance against the United States in 2006 that is etched in Ryder Cup folklore. Stenson holed the winning putt for Europe at The K Club in Ireland, defeating Vaughn Taylor 4 & 3, as Ian Woosnam’s team sealed a record-equalling 18½-9½ victory.

Stenson led the World Points List in qualifying for that contest, and former Masters Champion Woosnam has backed him to be an important part of the European team again at Gleneagles next year.

 “I’m just glad to see him playing so well again,” said Woosnam. “He had a difficult time, but he has got a great attitude and it is great to see him back playing so well. He is such a strong player and has such a strong mind.

“The last two months he has played fantastic. He is definitely the hottest player on Tour at the moment. When you have as much confidence as he does at the moment, the sky is the limit for him.

“I was certainly pleased to have him on my team in 2006 and he would be great again next year if he makes it. He’s just a nice lad so it’s great for him to have this success again.”