Stenson - The Comeback Kid
Story of the year? It has to be the comeback of Henrik Stenson. The Swede began 2013 ranked 53rd in the world. The previous year he had fallen as far as 230.
Stenson, 37, has endured all sorts of misfortune off the golf course, none more so than when he made the fateful decision to invest a substantial but undisclosed sum of money with Allen Stanford. Little did Stenson realise that Stanford was a fraudster on a massive scale.
His promise of providing untold wealth for his clients was pure fantasy. The only man who was growing rich was Stanford himself. And his investment programme was nothing more than a ponzi scheme in which he was using one client's money to replace the hole left when he pocketed a previous client's funds. It was a giant pack of cards waiting to come crashing down and when it did, many innocent people found themself millions of dollars out of pocket.
Stanford is currently serving a jail term of 110 years. Some of his former clients are still trying to pick up the pieces.
Stenson was one such individual. A man who had earned millions on both sides of the Pond, he should have been living the life of luxury, but Stanford took him for a sizeable chunk of his savings. Stenson has never revealed precisely how much he lost, but his results on the golf course at the time spoke for themselves.
He lost form - completely and utterly. He must have been eaten away by a mixture of guilt and self-loathing that he had fallen for the sweet-talking Stanford's sales patter. "Things like this happen to other people. How could I have been so stupid?"
Stenson quickly realised that he wasn't going to get any of his money back, and since he only knew how to do one thing, then he had to rededicate himself. He had been as high as four in the world rankings. He has played Ryder Cup golf, he has represented Sweden in the World Cup and he has won the Players Championship. Now he had to start all over again.
There is a case to be made that he is actually playing the best golf of his life. He could have won the Scottish Open. Had he holed a few more putts he would have pipped Phil Mickelson to The Open at Muirfield. He was tied second in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Akron and since Tiger Woods won by seven shots, Stenson could say that he and Keegan Bradley won the other tournament that was going on.
Such has been his recovery that he even leads the Race to Dubai, and not so very long ago that would have been unthinkable.
“I’ve made some great improvements this season and I’m really getting back to form. Mentally I’m in a good place but I still feel like I could up it a little bit and be a little bit more confident with my game. I’m going to keep on trying to put myself into these positions going forward, and hopefully we can close the deal in the near future.”
Stenson spent many years living in Dubai, but now has a family home in Orlando, Florida. “I found some form on the back end of last year,” he added. “It was great to be back in the winner’s circle at the South African Open in November. I’ve put down some long?term goals with my game and worked hard at them, and as always, that pays off in the end.
“I’ve been moving up in the world rankings and I’m still in a good spot. I have no points to defend for another six months, basically, so everything I add will either stay or make me go higher. I’m kind of looking at trying to get back into the top 10 by the end of this year if I keep progressing. I can definitely see top 10 in the world - I wouldn’t say I’m that far off.” Actually he is not far off at all - his recent performances have seen him soar to 11th, ahead of the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.
In his prime, Stenson struggled to keep the ball in play with his driver, but he is so strong that he is able to compete at the highest level hitting most tee shots with a three wood. His iron play is wonderful and when he has his eye in on the greens he is as good as anybody in the game.
Don't be surprised to see him contend for the US PGA championship. If he does, he should finish the year top of the pile in Europe and back in the top five in the world rankings.
Photo Credit: TourProGolfClubs.com
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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