2015 Preview: Henrik Stenson
Welcome to the 2015 Golf Preview, where I’ll take a look at selected golfers and examine what to expect over the next twelve months. Today, we look at Henrik Stenson.
Considering where he’s fallen in his career, it seems like a miracle that we’re talking about Henrik Stenson as a major part of golf heading into 2015. After a steady climb up the ranks, Stenson finally broke through in 2006, winning twice on the European Tour and playing in his first Ryder Cup. He followed that up with another two wins in 2007, the second of which came against Geoff Ogilvy in the WGC-Match Play and vaulted him into fifth place in the Official World Golf Rankings, which at the time, was the highest a Swedish born player had gotten in the OWGR. He played for Europe again at the Ryder Cup in 2008, and then won the PLAYERS Championship in 2009, overcoming a five-shot deficit to Alex Cejka and everything looked like it was on the right path.
The rest of 2009 saw some inconsistent but decent play, but the next two years were rough. 2010 and 2011 saw Stenson play in 48 events worldwide and not only did he not win any of them, but he only posted four top-10’s and he missed 17 cuts. In the middle of all of this, he even went back home when he wasn’t qualified for the 2011 PGA and played in his club championship, which he lost. The fall saw Stenson, who previously occupied the fourth spot in the world, drop all the way to 230th at the start of 2012.
He finally got another top-10 at the 2012 Puerto Rico Open, the opposite field event to Doral, before going back to Europe and finishing inside the top-10 in seven events to finish the year, including his first win in over three years in South Africa. In 2013, Stenson played a TON of golf, teeing it up in 31 events worldwide and only missing two cuts, but most impressive was his run at the end of the season when he went on a fourteen event stretch from the Scottish Open in July to the end of the year, and finished outside of the top-7 just four times. He picked up three wins and became the first player to win both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season. By comparison to 2013, Stenson’s 2014 was rather tame, but he still managed to win his final event of the year in Dubai and has jumped back up to 2nd in the world behind only Rory McIlroy.
It’s been a hell of a journey.
ESPN’s Henrik Stenson Headshot
ESPN.com has a lot of great golf content, but their player headshots are, shall we say, a little outdated, with Ryan Moore leading the way. As such, I’m introducing the Ryan Moore headshot ranking system. Each player will get a ranking from 1-10, with 10 being the most outdated possible.
You know, at this point, I honestly believe that it’s someone’s job at ESPN to find the most outdated photo possible just to troll everyone. Stenson played in his first major back at the Open Championship back in 2001 when he was 25 years old, and there’s no way that this is even that recent. He honestly looks like he just walked off of the set of the Swedish version of Dawson’s Creek.
I’m also now thinking that this should have been the Stenson scale instead of Ryan Moore.
Why You Should Watch
When he’s on, Stenson strikes the ball at an elite rate, and the best club in his bag is definitely his 3-wood which he actually hits more often than his driver, but with how far he hits it, he can get away with that without issue. It’s a good thing that he hits the ball as well as he does too because he can be an absolutely appalling putter, which is probably the biggest reason why he doesn’t have a major win as of yet.
My actual reason for why you should watch him though is that when he’s on the course, Stenson’s just a little bit crazy. Case in point:
He’s always entertaining.
Stenson in one GIF
I know I just showed off three GIFs, but the shot above from the 2013 DP World Tour Championship was the best shot of the year, without question. 68th fairway hit of the week for him too, which shows what kind of ball striker he can be when he’s on, plus the club used there? That 3-wood, which he might hit better than anyone hits anything in their bag.
Which major is Stenson most likely to win, if any?
With the way that Stenson hits the ball, he should be able to win anywhere, but the putter (135th in strokes gained in 2014) is a big problem and probably takes him out of the running at the Masters, a place where he has zero top-10 finishes in nine tries. I can never trust the USGA to not trick out a course, which usually means the greens are ludicrous, so that’s out and while I think he can be a good fit at the Open, he really just seems like a PGA Championship winner to me. I’d like to think he’s too good not to win a major, but the putter needs improvement. The important thing is that it appears, at least I hope, that Stenson is here to stay this time.