Stenson set to head to Troon early after win at BMW Open
HENRIK STENSON, fresh from winning the BMW International Open at Pulheim, will head to Royal Troon for a couple of days ahead of next month’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in a bid to boost his chances of becoming the first Swede to capture The Open Championship.
Three years ago, when Castle Stuart last hosted the Scottish Open, Stenson spent two days of that week familiarising himself with Muirfield before then sharing third place along the Moray Firth shoreline behind Phil Mickelson. A week later, Stenson ended runner-up to Mickelson at Muirfield.
“I went to Muirfield early also in 2013 ahead of playing the Scottish when we were last at Castle Stuart and then look where I finished in The Open,” said Stenson.
“So maybe by heading to Royal Troon ahead of this year’s Scottish Open I can go one better in this year’s Open.”
Stenson was speaking after completing a three-shot victory in Germany, ending an 18-month winless drought with scores of 68, 65, 67 and 71 for a 17-under par tally on a rainsoftened Gut Larcenhof course.
The Swede, who was forced to miss the second major of the year last week through injury, held his nerve to see off South African Darren Fichardt and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark who finished in a tie for second on 14-under.
The day was to prove a test of stamina after Saturday’s washout meant players would be required to play 36 holes.
Stenson’s bogey-free third round gave him a one-shot lead but four dropped shots in the space of seven holes in his final round allowed Fichardt to pull level.
But birdies at the 13th and 15th settled nerves and another at the 17th all but secured victory while Fichardt bogeyed the last. It was Stenson’s fifth top-six finish in eight European Tour events this season.
Olesen had an opportunity early in the round, and briefly shared the lead with Stenson, but did not keep pace with the Swede on the back nine and signed for a 73.
France’s Raphael Jacquelin was fourth on 11 under, one shot ahead of Sergio Garcia and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
It is Stenson’s 10th European Tour title and he’s now just one victory short of matching Robert Karlsson’s all-time Swedish record of 11 wins.
However, more importantly, Stenson has locked-in a fourth Ryder Cup spot and is the oldest player to date in Darren Clarke’s team.
“I had virtually wrapped-up my place in the Ryder Cup but then this win should be a huge boost for our team as there is a few rookies who could be in the side, and we are going to need plenty of experience,” he said.
“But in saying that there is a lot of experience just off the edge of being selected and with two Majors and the FedEx Cup Series still to play.”
Stirling’s Craig Lee, who also played 36 holes on day four, finished the best of the four remaining Scots by shooting 75 and 73 for a share of 45th place at one under par.
Meanwhile, USA Ryder Cup vicecaptain Steve Stricker has accepted an invitation to contest next fortnight’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
It will be the first time Stricker has played a regular European Tour event since the 2011 Qatar Masters.
And there could be two more “overseas” players competing given the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic, and to be staged the same week as the Scottish Open, has been cancelled this year due to flooding in West Virginia that has claimed 23 lives.
It has also forced the R&A to switch to this week’s Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada, for the allocation of one place into The Open that was to be on offer at the Greenbrier.
DAY IN THE SUN: Henrik Stenson of Sweden was forced to play two rounds on day four due to rain but held on for victory