ORLANDO, Fla. – Henrik Stenson had some trouble shaking off the rust during his first few starts last year. No such issue this time around.
Coming off a pair of top-five finishes, Stenson is again near the top of the leaderboard after opening with a 4-under 68 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It marked the Swede’s ninth consecutive round at par or better to begin the year, and his fifth score in the 60s across his last seven rounds at Bay Hill.
“Nothing overly spectacular, but solid enough,” said Stenson, who sits one shot off the early pace.
A resident of nearby Lake Nona, Stenson is looking for his fourth straight top-15 finish at this event. After fatigue – coming off money titles on the PGA and European tours in 2013 – led to a slow start last year, he has come out strong, including a fourth-place showing last week at Innisbrook.
“I’m definitely playing better at this time than I did last year,” he said. “I’m putting better that’s for sure, and short game has been all right. Striking has actually been the one thing that’s not maybe been as solid as it normally is, but I’m still in a decent spot.”
While players often claim to focus only on the task at hand, Stenson is open about the fact that the Masters remains at the forefront of his mind.
“I’m trying to keep the mindset I want to have at Augusta, trying to keep that for these weeks and for every competitive round,” he said, “because it’s not like you’re going to all of a sudden be able to turn things up unless you’ve done it before.”