The Loop

The ultimate momentum player, Henrik Stenson tends to play his best golf in bunches


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July 29, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- No player on the planet is hotter than Henrik Stenson. In his last three-and-a-half starts, the super Swede is a cumulative 50 strokes under par with two wins, including one claret jug.

On Friday, he shot a second-straight 67 to sit near the top of the leader board at Baltusrol Golf Club, where for the second time in as many starts he is poised to make a run at a major championship.

“I'm very happy to be able to follow up the success at Troon with a couple of strong rounds here and be in good position,” Stenson said. “You're not winning anything on a Thursday and a Friday, but you can put yourself in the wrong direction early days.”

Lately, he has done everything right. It’s not the first time, either. The 40-year-old fifth-ranked player in the world tends to play his best golf in bunches.

In 2013, Stenson finished second at the Open Championship, second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and third at the PGA Championship before winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and Tour Championship en route to capturing the FedEx Cup title.

The following year, he won in Dubai, was third in Turkey and second at the Volvo World Match Play in a four-tournament stretch.

In 2015, Stenson went fourth, fourth and second at Doral, Tampa and Bay Hill before closing out the season later that year with three runner-up finishes sandwiched around a tie for 10th in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

So why has he been able carry such momentum from one start to the next and produce lightning-in-a-bottle results? Stenson’s coach Pete Cowen says he wishes he knew.

“He’s comfortable with himself at the moment,” Cowen said. “And at last he has only one thought on his golf swing.”

That thought is a simple one: Match the delivery position to the body opening up on the downswing. In doing so, Stenson has been able to trust his swing, hit laser-like shots and produce better golf than anyone over the last few weeks.

“I work a lot on my game, and I think when I get it in good order, I have been able to keep it going for quite some time and have some long stretches where I've been playing well,” Stenson said, trying to explain his history of hot streaks. “If you feel like you've got your game in good control and as long as you're not getting too run down, then I can carry on that momentum for quite some time.”

Stenson has long been one of the best ball-strikers in the game. It’s a sign of that hard work and his digging it out of the dirt, and when it’s on this is the golf he is capable of displaying.

No single shot Friday was a better example of that than a 3-wood to a few feet on the par-5 18th -- his ninth hole -- to set up an eagle that erased two early bogeys and turned the day around.

Over the next nine holes, Stenson made three birdies, no bogeys and finds himself in a familiar position heading into the weekend of another major championship.

“I think that goes hand in hand with feeling in pretty good control about my game and what I need to do,” he said. “I feel like I know what I'm doing technically, and also I've been doing some -- mentally I've been in a good place for the last month or so.

“It's kind of hard to compare, but I felt like when I played really well in 2013 over a long period of time, I knew what I was doing on the golf course, and I had my game plan and I just went out and did it and didn't think too much about the result or the outcome or winning. It was more about doing the right things, and the more you do that, the better results are going to be.”