SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Dust has not yet collected on the claret jug, and Henrik Stenson’s hand remains a little sore from the increase in autograph requests. Nevertheless, it’s time to go back to work.
Only nine days after playing the round of his life en route to winning the 145th Open, Stenson was all smiles at the PGA Championship as he sets his sights on winning a second major in the span of three weeks.
“It’s been an exciting time since we finished off at Troon,” Stenson said. “It’s a boyhood dream come true, and something I wanted to achieve all my life, and then it finally happened.”
Stenson returned to Sweden after winning the Open, and celebrated his victory with friends and family by swilling one particular beverage from golf’s oldest trophy.
“It was champagne, and it was champagne, and it was champagne,” he said with a grin. “I have it for a year, so there might be a few more sips.”
But despite reaching the pinnacle of the game at age 40, Stenson is not one to rest on his laurels. The same drive and determination that fueled him during not one but two efforts to rescue his game from the abyss are the same traits that will continue to guide him.
Winning the Open may have been, as Stenson put it, “icing on the cake,” but he believes he still has plenty to accomplish starting this week at Baltusrol Golf Club, where he finished T-47 back in 2005.
“I think golf is a game you’re never going to be finished,” he said. “You’re never going to get to the point where you’re maxed out in your ability and how you’re playing, so there’s always that strive to become better. I’ve got a little perfectionist in there that’s always been pushing me forward, and that can both make me and break me at times, when you’re striving to be your best.”
Stenson has had a number of close calls in major championships, several of which have come at this event. He finished T-6 or better at the PGA four times in a seven-year stretch from 2008-2014, notably a third-place result at Oak Hill in 2013 when he was within a shot of the lead for much of the final round.
He is happy to have a new piece of silver luggage to tote with him, a reminder of the crowning achievement he realized just a few days ago. But rather than serving as the cap on a splendid career, Stenson hopes his performance at Royal Troon serves as a launching pad to even greater heights.
“I don’t think I’m going to sit back and just say, ‘OK, that was it, I’m finished,’” he said. “I think I’ve still got a good few years in me, and I’m going to try and keep on developing. If you don’t, these young guys are going to come up and take over. So I still think I’ve got a bit of fight in me.”