Henrik Stenson believes his role as European Captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup can inspire him to continue to reach higher levels as a player as he prepares for his 16th US PGA Championship appearance.
The 46-year-old will become the first Swede to lead a European Ryder Cup team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club next September, having been on the winning side in three of his five appearances as a player.
Stenson says the “big honour” of trying to regain the trophy the United States won at Whistling Straits last year will occupy much of his attention over the next year or so, but he does not anticipate it being to the detriment of his game.
“As you know, I'm very much an active player and I'm trying to make birdies and put myself in good positions on the golf course and in the golf tournaments,” Stenson said, a day after Tuesday marked 500 days until the 44th Ryder Cup.
Can’t wait to get this party started!#rydercup#teameurope pic.twitter.com/9xi7LmOIo0— Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) May 17, 2022
“I'm sure it will be occupying my mind a bit more than I would like to at times. I think that's me as a person. I want to do a good job. I want to be there for the players, making sure that we've done everything we can in preparation.
“It will take up a lot of time, but it's fun time. And I think in terms of energy, it also gives you a bit of a boost when you're doing things that you really enjoy and that are fun rather than feeling like it saps energy out of you.”
Preparations are already underway for next year’s edition in Rome, with Stenson, who announced Thomas Bjørn as his first Vice Captain earlier this month, due to go on a site visit in the next few weeks.
Aside from the Open Championship, which Stenson famously won in 2016, the US PGA Championship has proven the Major where the Swede has enjoyed his best results.
He has registered five top tens in his career and is hopeful he can use his experience to his advantage this week at Southern Hills Country Club.
It also gives you a bit of a boost when you're doing things that you really enjoy and that are fun rather than feeling like it saps energy out of you
“No matter what your age, if you play your best game and you use all that experience and mental abilities and everything else, you can certainly be up there and win even at a later age and maybe when you don't have quite the same distance as the 23-year-olds of today," he said.
“We see the younger generation, the kind of firepower they have off the tee and the distances, but there's more to it than just distance.
“The game plan on my end would be fairways and greens as much as possible, try and leave yourself underneath the hole, and the more easy pars or birdie chances you can give yourself in a Major Championship, the better it is and the better you're going to do.
“With my own game, I feel like striking is moving in the right direction, and also the putting. So I'll keep chipping away and see what we can do.”