NORTON, Mass. – The Deutsche Bank Championship presents a crossroads of sorts for Henrik Stenson: familiar venue, unfamiliar position.
Last year, Stenson entered the second playoff event at No. 13 in the postseason standings and won at TPC Boston by two shots. That victory propelled him to the top of the points list, and he went on to win the FedEx Cup at East Lake three weeks later.
This time around, the Swede returns to New England at No. 66 in the standings, in need of a solid week to simply ensure a trip to Denver for next week’s BMW Championship.
“I don’t need any miracles, but if I want to make it to Atlanta, I have to have a good showing either this week or next week,” Stenson said. “I’d rather do it this week than wait until the last minute.”
If Stenson makes the final cut of the season – the top 70 and ties from a field of 93 will play the weekend at TPC Boston – he can book his ticket for Cherry Hills. His focus, though, remains on returning to East Lake to defend his FedEx Cup crown, a feat only Brandt Snedeker (2013) has achieved in the playoff era.
“I feel like it would be a shame not to make it to the Tour Championship and defend my second title out of the two that I won here last year,” he said.
Stenson was slow coming out of the gates this year, having had only a few weeks to rest after capturing the Race to Dubai title in addition to his FedEx Cup crown last fall. After challenging for trophies on nearly a weekly basis for the second half of his 2013 season, Stenson admitted that he was worn down to begin his 2014 campaign.
“If you’re up in contention as much as I was last year, it just takes a little bit out of you every time,” he said. “If you don’t have enough time to rest up, then it’s going to be hard to keep on going.”
Stenson also noted that after a pair of season-long titles, his off-course obligations increased – to the detriment of his on-course performance.
“I was really, really low on energy and still very busy off the golf course for the first three or four months this season,” Stenson said. “I mean Bridgestone and PGA (Championship)…that was the first time actually I had two weeks where I could focus on my golf and not do other stuff off the golf course. And that seems to pay off quite quickly as well on my game.”