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Another long road back for slumping Henrik Stenson

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — The tee markers on the Valspar Championship have been paint cans, besides they have been crammed with sand. This would have been helpful data for Henrik Stenson, identified to take out his frustrations on inanimate objects.

That was by no means going to be a difficulty at Innisbrook.

Sure, the frustration stage is excessive. Five 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 prime 20 within the 23 particular person tournaments he has performed worldwide since ending 2019 with a victory within the Bahamas.

He is aware of he is not enjoying properly. 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 want to talk after seeing signs of greatness?”

At least he was nonetheless enjoying on the weekend. He had missed six straight cuts till a tie for thirty eighth within the Masters, after which he performed all 4 rounds on the Valspar Championship. Any progress is welcome.

Stenson headed residence to Orlando for two weeks of what he known as “training camp.” His swing coach, Pete Cowen, who already has helped him emerge from two earlier slumps in his profession, will probably 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’m going to have some peace and quiet to work things through and set it off in the right direction,” Stenson mentioned. “It’s a little better, but still nowhere near where I need to be in terms of striking and confidence. We haven’t done the right things over time, and then you end up in a place where you compensate for compensations. After a while, you don’t know what’s up and down.

“We’ve got work ahead of us.”

The world rating is method down. Stenson reached as excessive as No. 2 on the earth 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 will 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.

This 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 foremost championship scoring report at 264.

This is just not 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 earth. Three years later, he holed the clinching putt on the Ryder Cup in Ireland. Stenson reached No. 5 on the earth earlier than going by one other unhealthy spell not long after profitable The Players 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 first one was a complete rebuild from when Stenson had the yips so unhealthy he walked off the course, anxious certainly one of his pictures may harm somebody. Cowen labored on a proportion foundation and mentioned he made $50 for two years. It was onerous to inform if he was kidding.

What makes this venture extra demanding is Stenson turned 45 in April. He is a serious champion, an Olympic silver medalist and a five-time Ryder Cup participant, profitable all three of his matches within the final one.

“At 45, how much rebuilding can you do?” Cowen mentioned.

His greatest concern for Stenson is the driving force, or lack of 1. Stenson long has relied on a 3-wood that he bludgeons with nice impact. Cowen mentioned the driving force is simply an inch longer, with 3 levels much less loft. It should not be an issue to hit, and he would not perceive the psychological block.

Regardless, Stenson is giving up distance to gamers almost half his age. He used to get by simply high-quality. Now it is getting more durable as a result of everyone seems to be getting youthful, longer, higher.

“He’s got to be able to hit driver,” Cowen mentioned. “Without that, he’s got to play better than the rest just to compete. That’s the difficult part at the moment.”

As for the motivation, Stenson is just not involved.

“I’ve gone through the ups and downs, as you know. It’s part of it,” Stenson mentioned. “You’re not going to be out here 20 or 25 years and not have a few bad patches. It would be one thing if I didn’t care and didn’t work. But I’m putting in the hours. I’m trying my hardest.

“When you’re walking around in circles, it’s hard work.”

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 almost 5 months. He did not do any work together with his workforce.

Stenson is hopeful this two-week coaching camp will put him on the fitting 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’ve got work to do,” Stenson mentioned. “But we’re not a quitter.”


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