Rejuvenated Stenson in thick of things after 54
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Two years ago, Henrik Stenson’s game had fallen to the point where he couldn’t even win his club championship back home in Sweden. In a remarkable reversal of fortune, he’ll start the final round of the PGA Championship with a real chance to win his first major crown.
“Golf is definitely a whole lot more fun that in was back in 2011,” Stenson said. “It’s more fun to show up at the races with a good gearbox and a good set of tires. I’m working ahead, getting closer to where I want to be and playing some good golf again.”
Stenson shot a 69 on Saturday and stands at 7-under 203 after three rounds. He will start the final day two shots behind front-runner Jim Furyk.
Stenson is a two-time Ryder Cup player and winner of the 2009 Players Championship. He rose as high as fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking before his game began to slip. He soon found himself out of the top 50 in the ranking, out of the World Golf Championship tournaments and struggling to get into big events.
He failed to qualify for the last two PGA Championships, which is why he ended up playing at his club championship.
“I was up in contention there, as well. I didn’t win,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd at his press conference. “I was not in a good period with my golf. I was not playing great and I ended up finishing second. I guess it’s not something that will stand out as a highlight on my CV.”
That seems like eons ago. Stenson has worked hard, physically and mentally, to rediscover his game and the work shows. Over the last month, he’s tied for third at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, finished second at the Open Championship and tied for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Stenson said. “I’ve got a great team around me and they are helping me go in the right direction. And obviously I have put a few hours in myself.”
Stenson played his third consistent round on Saturday. With the winds at Oak Hill swirling, forcing players to make numerous adjustments, he had three birdies and two bogeys.
“I managed my way around nicely,” he said. “Could have made one or two more birdies after some great shots early on the front nine, but also made some great par saves and kept it together nicely. I’m pleased with that and in great position going into tomorrow. Once again we are in contention and going to give my best tomorrow.”
A victory would make Stenson the first male from Sweden to win a major championship.
“It would be lovely, but we’re still a long ways from that,” he said. “No point in thinking ahead of things. It’s going to be a big challenge again to keep the mind in the right place, and if I can do that, I hope I can have a chance on the back nine.”