Stenson says no pressure for first major

Stenson says no pressure for first major

SINGAPORE - Agence France-Presse
Stenson says no pressure for first major

Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson is the brightest player of the year, finishing the 2013 campaign as the top golfer in Europe. AP photo

Henrik Stenson said yesterday he would be under no extra pressure to claim his first major despite a dominant season which put him on top of the golf world.

The Swede won America’s FedEx Cup and Europe’s Race to Dubai -- including the series finale on both tours -- ensuring he will be closely watched in 2014. But the world number three, speaking ahead of next month’s Thailand Golf Championship, said his streak would give him confidence rather than put him under pressure at the majors.

“I don’t think I will go there with added pressure, I think I will go there with more confidence after being able to achieve the things I’ve achieved this season,” he told journalists via teleconference.

“I’m also very excited because I felt like at the Open Championship and the US PGA... there’s been a lot of weeks where I’ve played better, but if things had fallen my way I potentially could have won both those majors this summer. “Hopefully another time I’m the one that makes the extra putt and things will fall my way.”

Stenson finished second behind Phil Mickelson at the Open in July and was third at the PGA Championship the following month.

The Swede, currently in South Africa for the start of the new European Tour season, will return to Asia for the December 12-15 Thailand Golf Championship near Bangkok. He admitted that a major was now “the one thing missing” after recovering from a loss of form that saw him ranked outside the top 200 less than two years ago.

“Even now after winning both the FedEx and the Race to Dubai overall titles, a major championship would obviously be the one thing missing on my list of results,” he said. “I’m going to try my hardest, it’s one of the toughest things to achieve, that’s why they’re called major championships.” He added: “It’s not like you get a million chances. It’s all about trying to do the best preparation and hopefully get there with the game in good shape and then it’s down to a lot of different factors.” Stenson refused to divulge the secrets behind his comeback, saying “if I tell you, you’re going to tell them, and then everybody’s going to come back and kick my butt”. But he said a return to working with his former sports psychologist Torsten Hanson, and putting together “holistic” plans for his tournaments, was crucial.

“I know there’s a lot of room for improvement, still a lot of areas where I can become much, much better,” Stenson said, although he warned another slump was not impossible.

“Hopefully I can stay away from playing the way I did in 2011 going forward, but you can never guarantee it. There are always going to be ups and downs,” he added.