Remembering dark days makes highs all the sweeter for Stenson

Having suffered two major career slumps, the Swede knows to savour his current success

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is leading the chase for the $10m on offer to the FedEx Cup winner ahead of this weekend’s competition in Illinois. Photograph: Getty

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is leading the chase for the $10m on offer to the FedEx Cup winner ahead of this weekend’s competition in Illinois. Photograph: Getty


Henrik Stenson admits the lows he has suffered are making the current highs all the more enjoyable as he leads the chase for the $10m on offer to the FedEx Cup winner.

Stenson won his first European Tour title in 2001 but then went through the first of two major career slumps, the second coming in 2011 and leaving him 230th in the world rankings at the start of last year.

The Swede also lost a significant amount of money in disgraced financier Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme in 2009, just months after the biggest victory of his career in the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Add in some serious health problems – one caused by a parasite picked up on holiday – and the 37-year-old’s form in 2013 is all the more remarkable, with a share of third place in the Scottish Open followed up by runners-up finishes in the British Open and WGC Bridgestone Invitational, third place in the US PGA and victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

That win in Boston lifted Stenson to the top of the FedEx Cup standings ahead of this week’s BMW Championship, where the 70-man field will be reduced to the 30 players who will contest the Tour Championship next week.

Although the points standings are then reset, Stenson is guaranteed to be in the top five in Atlanta, meaning a win at East Lake would see him follow Brandt Snedeker as golf’s $10 million man.

“I’m excited about these two weeks and I’m obviously going to try my hardest to try and keep the boys behind me,” said Stenson, now ranked sixth in the world, just two spots lower than his career-high in ’09.

“Life is ups and downs; stock market, golf, everything kind of goes in cycles. I think definitely when you’re not getting what you want and you have to work hard for it and then you get the reward, of course it’s going to feel better than if you get it all the time.

“Health issues are a little bit tougher . . . We went on vacation in November 2011 and I picked up a waterborne parasite. It’s been gradually getting better, but there’s still been tiny little things even probably a year and a half, two years afterwards. You can still kind of feel sometimes that the system hasn’t been 100 per cent.”

The top 19 in the current standings can expect to qualify for the Tour Championship no matter where they finish this week, but the likes of Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald all have their work cut out to advance.

Westwood will likely need a top-15 finish to be certain of reaching Atlanta, while McIlroy needs to finish eighth or better, McDowell fifth, Poulter fifth and Donald fourth.

Course: Conway Farms GC, Lake Forest, Illinois
Prize money: $8m ($ 1 .44m to winner)
Length: 7,216 yrds
Where to watch: Live on Sky Sports from 8pm tomorrow
Course overview: Designed in the image of a Scottish links with deep revetted bunkers and long rough, some of the holes are more parkland than links. The key holes are the 467-yard fifth, rated the hardest on the course with a long carry over water and high poplars to the right, the 455-yard tenth with a deep bunker and creek down the right, and the three finishing holes
Weather forecast: First three days are likely to be cloudy and breezy