Henrik Stenson’s final-round 63 to win the 2016 British Open will be remembered as one of the greatest Sunday performances in major championship history. Stenson’s game rose to a new level at Royal Troon, and he has a chance to continue that momentum into the PGA Championship and Olympics that are less than a month away. Stenson could propel himself into the top-tier of the Tour very quickly. Here are four things you need to know about the Swede.
1. He Always Comes Back From Slumps
After turning pro in 1998, Stenson faced dreadful driver yips three years into his career. In interviews, he talked about his fear on the teebox – not fear of missing the fairway, but hitting one of the fans crowding the tee with an errant shot. In 2003, he plummeted to No. 500 in the rankings, but by 2006, he was back inside the top 15. He rose to his highest world ranking in November 2014, reaching the No. 2 spot. This was only a two and a half years after he had dipped down No. 224 in March 2012. With his Open win, he will jump to No. 5 in the World, closing in on Rory McIlroy.
2. He Hasn’t Figured Out Augusta
For all of his success in major championships (seven top-5 finishes), Stenson has had relatively little success at Augusta National. In 11 events played, he’s made the cut eight times, but never finished inside the top-10. Stenson’s best finish was a T14 in 2014. He attempted a new tactic this year, as he blasted “Ice, Ice, Baby” driving down Magnolia Lane. Didn’t take: he finished T24.
3. He’s a Ryder Cup Late Bloomer
Even though Stenson is 40 years old, he’s only played on three Ryder Cup squads. (For comparison, Sergio Garcia is 36 and has played in seven Ryder Cups.) In his first appearance in 2006, he finished 1-1-1 in a European romp. At Valhalla in 2008, he ended with a 1-2-1 mark. Two of those matches were against Phil Mickelson in a losing team effort. In 2014, Stenson was one of Team Europe’s strongest players, ended with a 3-1 record. Overall, Stenson is 5-4-1 in his three events. He will be one of Europe’s top players once again in 2016.
4. He’s Not Afraid to Bare It All
OK, so you might know this about him. The above photo is pretty popular, but it bears repeating. The scene: In the 2009 WGC-CA Championship. Stenson’s tee shot on the 12th hole landed in the water, but it was playable. He took off his white pants to avoid the mud, then decided to take the shirt off too. In an interview with Golf Digest, Stenson said, “I went down to my underwear. I didn’t think a thing of it, and neither did Fanny – she’s Swedish also. I look at pictures of that episode, and she’s all business, her head buried in the yardage book. I salvaged a bogey, by the way.” He managed to win the 2016 Open without stripping all the way down. Lucky for us all.