WORLD No2 Henrik Stenson insists that extraordinary success last year on both sides of the Atlantic has only intensified his hunger for a first Major title when the Open begins at Hoylake today.
The 38-year-old became the first man to win the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai in the same year, and even did so by winning both season finales for what he termed a “double double”.
His Major duck remains unbroken, however, though he has three top-three finishes in his last five Open appearances and admits it would be the fulfilment of a childhood ambition to scratch that itch on Sunday.
“The Open Championship is a highlight of any season, and for any player. It would mean the world to me to win this,” said the Swede, who was second to Phil Mickelson last year at Muirfield.
“I grew up watching this championship. It was a boyhood dream to play in the Ryder Cup and the other one was to win the Open Championship. Just because I’ve had some great success I don’t think that dream has gone away. It’s the last thing on my CV to make it complete, more or less. If it doesn’t happen this year, I’ll come back and try next year.”
Stenson won three times and was runner-up on four occasions last season yet is winless since his dual triumph in November. He took seven events to register a first top-10 in a sluggish start to the year that also included two missed cuts, but the signs are that his form is returning, having placed in the top five four times in his last six outings.
“I’m fairly happy with my form,” said Stenson, who is grouped with Tiger Woods and Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds at Royal Liverpool.
“It hasn’t been as good a season as the last six months, last year, but you can’t expect to play like that all the time. I feel like I got some good results in this championship, as well. If I can keep to my plan and keep the patience and get the odd good bounce here and there, I hope to be there on Sunday.”
In-form Justin Rose plays alongside Australian Adam Scott, while Mickelson is alongside two-time winner Ernie Els and Masters champion Bubba Watson.