Column: One other lengthy street again for slumping Henrik Stenson
The tee markers on the Valspar Championship had been paint cans, besides they had been crammed with sand. This could have been helpful data for Henrik Stenson, recognized to take out his frustrations on inanimate objects.
That was by no means going to be a problem at Innisbrook.
Certain, the frustration degree is excessive. 5 years faraway from his summer time of silver — a claret jug at Royal Troon, an Olympic medal in Rio de Janeiro — the Swede has not completed within the high 20 within the 23 particular person tournaments he has performed worldwide since ending 2019 with a victory within the Bahamas.
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He is aware of he is not enjoying effectively. His mood is extra more likely to flare when he’s.
Stenson had a wry smile when he walked off the Copperhead course on Saturday after a 72 and mentioned together with his dry humor, “You wish to discuss after seeing indicators of greatness?”
A minimum of he was nonetheless enjoying on the weekend. He had missed six straight cuts till a tie for 38th within the Masters, after which he performed all 4 rounds on the Valspar Championship. Any progress is welcome.
Stenson headed residence to Orlando for 2 weeks of what he known as “coaching camp.” His swing coach, Pete Cowen, who already has helped him emerge from two earlier slumps in his profession, shall be at his aspect. His sports activities psychologist is coming the second week. His placing coach, Phil Kenyon, continues to be caught within the U.Ok.
“I’ll have some peace and quiet to work issues by and set it off in the correct course,” Stenson mentioned. “It is slightly higher, however nonetheless nowhere close to the place I must be when it comes to hanging and confidence. We’ve not carried out the correct issues over time, after which you find yourself in a spot the place you compensate for compensations. After some time, you do not know what’s up and down.
“We have got work forward of us.”
The world rating is manner down. Stenson reached as excessive as No. 2 on the planet in 2014, the yr after he captured the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the identical season. Now he’s at No. 124. He’ll return in two weeks for the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island earlier than a four-week stretch that takes him from Texas to Germany to Sweden to San Diego, ending with the U.S. Open.
That is the final yr he’s exempt for the U.S. majors from his epic duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon, the place Stenson set the main championship scoring report at 264.
This isn’t the primary time Stenson has needed to pull himself out of the depths.
He made solely eight cuts in 26 straight occasions in 2002-03 that plunged him to No. 621 on the planet. Three years later, he holed the clinching putt on the Ryder Cup in Eire. Stenson reached No. 5 on the planet earlier than going by one other dangerous spell not lengthy after successful The Gamers Championship in 2009. This time, he fell as little as No. 230 earlier than climbing out once more.
“I’ve gotten him out of deep (stuff) twice,” Cowen mentioned over the weekend.
The primary one was a complete rebuild from when Stenson had the yips so dangerous he walked off the course, fearful one in every of his photographs may harm somebody. Cowen labored on a share foundation and mentioned he made $50 for 2 years. It was exhausting to inform if he was kidding.
What makes this undertaking extra demanding is Stenson turned 45 in April. He’s a significant champion, an Olympic silver medalist and a five-time Ryder Cup participant, successful all three of his matches within the final one.
“At 45, how a lot rebuilding are you able to do?” Cowen mentioned.
His largest concern for Stenson is the driving force, or lack of 1. Stenson lengthy has relied on a 3-wood that he bludgeons with nice impact. Cowen mentioned the driving force is barely an inch longer, with Three levels much less loft. It should not be an issue to hit, and he does not perceive the psychological block.
Regardless, Stenson is giving up distance to gamers practically half his age. He used to get by simply high-quality. Now it is getting tougher as a result of everyone seems to be getting youthful, longer, higher.
“He is received to have the ability to hit driver,” Cowen mentioned. “With out that, he is received to play higher than the remaining simply to compete. That is the tough half in the meanwhile.”
As for the motivation, Stenson just isn’t involved.
“I’ve gone by the ups and downs, as you understand. It is a part of it,” Stenson mentioned. “You are not going to be out right here 20 or 25 years and never have a couple of dangerous patches. It might be one factor if I did not care and did not work. However I am placing within the hours. I am making an attempt my hardest.
“Once you’re strolling round in circles, it is exhausting work.”
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The pandemic did not assist. After two months of uncertainty, he left Orlando for Sweden and stayed there till August. He did not play for practically 5 months. He did not do any work together with his crew.
Stenson is hopeful this two-week coaching camp will put him on the correct path. He has a busy stretch forward of him with the PGA Championship, Colonial, the Porsche European Open in Germany and a mixed-team occasion in Sweden he’s co-hosting with Annika Sorenstam earlier than going to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, a course he final noticed when he missed the lower within the 2008 U.S. Open.
“We have got work to do,” Stenson mentioned. “However we’re not a quitter.”