Stenson Takes Control at the Benson


Henrik Stenson followed up an opening round 66 with a fine showing of 68 Friday to take outright control of the Benson and Hedges International Open.
Through 36 holes at The De Vere Belfry, the 25-year-old Swede leads by three shots at 10-under-par 134.
His closest rival is Thomas Bjorn, who produced a round of 68 of his own to sit at 7-under for the tournament. European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance (70), Desvonde Botes (69) and Paul McGinley (72) are one further back at minus-six.
Im very pleased with my round today as I was yesterday, said Stenson, who is competing in his rookie season this year on tour. My putter worked well again and I am excited because I think I have a nice weekend ahead of me.
Although he is just in his infancy on the big show, Stenson already knows a thing or two about good weekends, as last year, he topped the Challenge Tour rankings.
He has struggled thus far in 2001, but seems to be finding the same sort of form that led to his success in previous times.
I think you are always going to be a little tense going into the weekend as leader, but that is a good thing, he claimed. I hope I am a little nervous because if you are not it means you are not fired up as you should be. I hope I feel some butterflies in my stomach before I set off.
If nothing else, Stenson may feel some butterflies playing in the same group as Bjorn.
At 30 years of age, the big Dane has been proving that he is amongst the best Europe has to offer, and demonstrated that he is possibly capable of even greater things, when he beat Tiger Woods head-to-head earlier in the season at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Yet, he is also becoming aware that he is getting to the point where he must play better and better just to compete with the younger generation.
I always think of myself as a young player, Bjorn commented, but the other day I was interviewed alongside the other two players who have won the Asprey & Garrard Golfer of the Month Awards this season (Justin Rose and Aaron Baddeley) and they were both 20, so maybe now Im not so sure.
One person who is sure is Torrance, who seems to be feeling out The Belfry just fine before Septembers matches with the United States.
I have always been very impressed with Thomas as a golfer, he commented. I love his game and I love his attitude. He is hard on himself but he is also aggressive on the course and very competent.
Yet, as he claimed on Thursday, Torrance still is competing to win, not just to check out players for his team. That was apparent in Round Two, as he lit up The Belfry on the backside in 3-under.
When the birdies started going in I started to get a little buzz coming down the stretch which was good.
Defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal was buzzing following his second round, but in a bit of a different manner, as he struggled to a 75 to fall to 2-under for the tournament.
Likewise, American Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange did not fare quite so well, shooting 73 and missing the cut at 7-over-par.
Full-field scores from the Benson and Hedges International Open