TROON, Scotland — Henrik Stenson is the first to admit he isn’t getting any younger. Having turned 40 in April, the affable Swede seems to be enjoying playing the age card. A few times in the last few months he’s noted that his elder status made his decision to play in the Olympics easy since he and his wife are done having kids.
All that said, Stenson hardly looked like an old man on Friday at Royal Troon. Amid steady winds throughout his second round, and heavy rain in parts, Stenson shot the day’s low round, a six-under 65, to move within a shot of leader Phil Mickleson halfway through the 145th Open Championship.
Stenson’s showing thus far in his 12th career Open start is a big deal to him considering his recent form in major championships. After finishing in the top four in four of six majors from 2013-’14, Stenson he has not been a factor in any since a T-3 at the 2014 PGA Championship.
“I just wanted to turn things around,” Stenson said. “Like I said, I’m 40, I’m not going to play these tournaments forever and ever. I don’t have another 50 chances left. There might be a dozen or 15 in total. I better start putting myself in position and give myself chances if I want to make it happen. After six tournaments not being there, it’s time to get it going.”
It wasn’t just his performance in majors that Stenson was starting to question, but in ordinary tournaments as well. While claiming nine titles on the European Tour during his career, he had been winless since the 2014 DP World Tour Championship until last month in Germany when he won the BMW International Open.
“It was important. I got that one over the finish line,” Stenson said. “It was frustrating not to get a couple wins when I had chances. So it was important to get that win in Germany, and hopefully that will put us in the right frame of mind when we need to.”
Asked after his Friday round about the potential to claim his elusive first major on Sunday, the Swede didn’t want to get to far ahead of himself, using his self-deprecating wit to deflect the subject.
“There’s still a long ways to go. There is no point starting to think about outcome at this stage, really,” Stenson said. “Even though you keep on asking me about it all the time.”
Confirming another old saw: With age, comes wisdom.