Henrik Stenson confident he can return to winning ways after two barren years

Former Open champion Henrik Stenson is confident he still has the motivation and ability to work his way back to the top of the game.

Stenson reached a career-high of second in the world rankings in 2014 and won the 2016 Open with a record total of 20 under par following a memorable duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon.

The 45-year-old also held off a world-class field to win the Hero World Challenge in December 2019, but has failed to record a single top-10 finish since and has missed the cut in seven of his 11 events so far in 2021.

Henrik Stenson
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning the Open Championship at Royal Troon (Danny Lawson/PA)

On the plus side, three of the made cuts came in a row and included both the Masters and US PGA Championship, giving the Ryder Cup star confidence his game is heading in the right direction.

“I’m certainly not happy with the way I’ve played these last couple of years,” the world number 142 told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Porsche European Open.

“I’ve had a lot of great success over my career but the frustration of not playing the way I know I can and want to, that’s enough motivation for me to be out there and spending the time to get back in good shape.

“In 2019, the only time I was really in contention I was up there with a world-class field at Tiger’s event and managed to win it. I certainly feel like I’ve got what it takes to win out on Tour still.

“It’s been a long journey trying to get my game in shape, we’re still not there but it’s a work in progress.”

Stenson’s poor recent form means he faces a massive task to qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team in September, but he has not given up hope of being involved at Whistling Straits, especially after justifying a wild card in 2018 by winning all three of his matches in Paris.

“I’d love to play on another team,” added Stenson, who will host the Scandinavian Mixed event with Annika Sorenstam next week.

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson (top row, far left) celebrates after Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris in 2018 (David Davies/PA)

“I’ve played in five Ryder Cups, been on the winning team three times, all of them in Europe. I feel like I’ve got one thing to set straight on my Ryder Cup career and that would be to be on a winning team in America.

“I know I need to show a lot and pick up the pace in the next couple of months to have a chance to be on that team. Still not something we’ve given up on, there’s a lot of work to do. It’s in the back of my mind to perform to be in the mix.

“It would be nice to pick up some momentum this week before moving on to the home tournament in Sweden then onwards to the US Open. We’re putting the hours in and we’re hopeful it’s going to start paying off.”