Relentless spirit sees Henrik Stenson reap rich reward in Atlanta
Swede’s capacity to bounce back a major factor in winning Tour Championship and also securing the FedEx Cup title
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson with the trophies after winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club, in Atlanta. Photograph: AP Photo
Henrik Stenson seemed to be challenged for a brief period on the back nine last Sunday in East Lake, Atlanta, at the final Fed-Ex Cup play-off event. The swashbuckling Jordan Spieth, still only 20 , went on a rampage on the inward nine to threaten the Swede when most kids of his age were preparing for their first term of college.
Spieth, in a radical fashion for many golf pros, rejected an academic introduction to golfing by barging onto the PGA Tour through his Web.com tour achievements. Jordan would have reminded the seasoned and world-hardened Stenson of himself when he won at a young age on the European Tour in his first season.
When you are talented and young there is very little that can get in your way as an aspiring golfer. Its only after a few seasons you begin to realise all that can go wrong and the downside becomes way more apparent than the innocent oblivious ease of exercising a natural gift.
Stenson knuckled down as the chasing pack – Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker – appeared in his rear-view mirror. On key decisions where he was not certain, he took extra time and on the 11th and 16th after laborious deliberation with Lordy (Gareth Lord), his caddie, came up with the right choices.
I had been out with Henrik over the past two years in his second career slump when he was taking an inordinate amount of time to pull a club and when he did it tended not to be the ideal outcome.
Stenson made a very telling, if clichéd, statement after his victory about always trying. Dan Hicks noted that Henrik was down to 230th in the world a couple of years ago. Stenson retorted that he never gave up hope and always kept trying to improve.
Of course, tenacity is the most valuable quality in golf, given you can advance the ball somewhere in the direction you intend to. No matter what happens or what outrageous piece of luck befalls you, battling is the most common quality winners possess.
Having established himself as a steady top European player initially in his career, Henrik started to realise how difficult the game was and started a downward spiral. He gradually recovered, culminating in a victory in the richest prize in golf at the time, the Players Championship at Sawgrass in 2009 and regained his status as a serious world player. This happened about a year after he signed a contract with the “financial wizard” of the era, who was also a golf aficionado, Allen Stanford.