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Saturday 3 December 2016

Stenson seeks a major surge

After Troon success, Henrik hopes that the 'floodgates' might open

Henrik Stenson will be trying his hardest for another major win in the US PGA at Baltusrol next week. Photo: Getty Images
Henrik Stenson will be trying his hardest for another major win in the US PGA at Baltusrol next week. Photo: Getty Images

A week after worrying about his diminishing opportunities to win a major title, Henrik Stenson hopes his stunning British Open triumph can open the floodgates in the game's biggest events.

Since finishing third in the 2014 US PGA Championship, Stenson admitted he had not been a factor in the next six majors, culminating in withdrawing from last month's US Open after playing 16 holes of his second round in 10 over par.

The 40-year-old cited "minor neck and knee issues" and duly returned to action five days later in the BMW International Open to claim his first win since November 2014 after 13 top-four finishes without success.

"In the last 15-18 months I had a lot of great opportunities," said Stenson, who did not have long to celebrate lifting the Claret Jug before flying to Switzerland early yesterday to take part in Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia's charity event.

"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."

That victory gave Stenson the confidence to believe the Open was "his turn" to win a major after seven previous top-four finishes, although he was careful not to make such a statement in public.

Instead the new world number five let his clubs do the talking with rounds of 68, 65, 68 and a stunning 63 on Sunday which helped break or equal all kinds of records - not to mention Phil Mickelson's heart.

"We're only just getting started, aren't we?" Stenson added after becoming only the second player to finish a major in 20 under par. You never know once you open the floodgates what might happen.

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

Stenson was competing in just his third major championship - and first in America - the last time Baltusrol staged the US PGA in 2005, when a certain Phil Mickelson birdied the 72nd hole to win.

After winning three times on the Challenge Tour in 2000, including the Grand Final in Cuba, Stenson won his first European Tour title the following year but then went through the first of two career slumps, the second coming in 2011 and leaving him 230th in the world rankings at the start of 2012.

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.

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

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