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At 40, Henrik Stenson’s performance gives hope to ageing golfers

Ageing Swede Henrik Stenson’s recent performances has given others in same age bracket encouragement

other sports Updated: Dec 01, 2016 19:52 IST
Robin Bose
Tiger Woods

Henrik Stenson of Sweden practices on the putting green ahead of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, The Bahamas.(AFP)

Failing to figure it out himself, Henrik Stenson has invited suggestions over mail. While there is awareness that “certain courses are going to play in our favour and some not”, his appearances at The Masters haven’t met expectations. It isn’t about inexperience either as the world No 4 has played enough at the Augusta National Golf Club and feels comfortable.

There is something more to it, and he is willing to wait and see if the anomaly can be set right. After all, he has benefitted by staying patient. After a phenomenal season in 2013, when he won the order of merit on the PGA and European Tours, Stenson thought he wasn’t going to beat that.

He did, and at 40 reeled off performances that give hope to those in that age bracket, and wracked by doubt. Perhaps, even Tiger Woods, as he returns to competitive golf after a considerable gap at the Hero World Challenge this week.

The win at The Open Championship, Olympic silver and rounding off the season with the Race to Dubai (order of merit) title on the European Tour, Stenson made it possible. Happy to keep the young brigade at bay, he attributed it to the grind when the confidence was down. “If you’re a winner of that calibre, that’s still in there and that’s never going to go away. What goes is your form and your ability to bring that out,” he said on committing to long-term processes.

Ups and downs

He would like to believe that the ups and downs he encountered over time were bigger than most, and if not for the patience to get back, he wouldn’t have been addressing the gathering at the Championship Golf Course on his career’s best season.

That would hold for Tiger as well. “You’ve got to accept where you are because it doesn’t matter if you’ve won five, 10 or 100 tournaments. You’re only as good as you are for the time being,” said Stenson.

Despite the work required to get closer to where he wants to be, Tiger’s intimidating presence came up for discussion. Not one to be overawed though, as “playing with the best always triggered me to try and get the best out of my game and beat them”, Stenson recollected an instance from 2005 and the futility of even attempting to match Tiger’s appeal.

“I told my caddie there’s no point trying to get the crowds to stand, I’ll try and focus and hit my shot because as soon as he (Tiger) either made a putt or hit his tee shot, approach, everyone just walked. I said, ‘leave it, you can’t stop a herd moving forward at that pace’.”