SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – For a player who has a history of running hot on the golf course, Henrik Stenson’s start on Friday at the PGA Championship was a recipe for disaster.
After a 45-minute rain delay prolonged what was already going to be a long day, the Swede began his round with two bogeys through his first four holes.
But The Open champion didn’t take a familiar path to frustration. Instead he stayed patient, eagled the par-5 18th hole (he began his round on No. 10) and added birdies at the first and third holes to move back up the leaderboard before punctuating his round of 67 with a birdie at No. 8.
“It wasn't the ideal start to the morning, and the golf course was very wet. There was a lot of water on the first couple of fairways,” he said. “I was just trying to hang in there and do the best I could. And I was off with the pace putting and left myself some tricky par putts.”
Stenson’s bounce-back is the most recent indication that at 40 years old he’s more in control of emotions, which is always crucial at major championships.
In practical terms that more steady approach is evident in his recent Grand Slam play. Stenson’s scoring average in his last seven major championship rounds is 66.71 and he’s hit the green in regulation 81 percent of the time during that span.
“It definitely helps a lot when the mind is clear on what you're doing,” he said. “If you feel like you've got pretty good control of your swing and your ball-striking, then it's about doing the calculations and figuring out where you want to hit the shots and stay committed to that.”