RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – When play begins Monday at the Tavistock Cup, Henrik Stenson will be amongst many of the world’s top players, including Graeme McDowell, Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter.
Stenson used to be of that ilk. He was once a top-10 player in the world, winner of both the WGC-Match Play (’07) and Players Championship (’09). But while the world’s best are gathered in Miami for a World Golf Championship, Stenson is at this week’s secondary stop, the Puerto Rico Open.
He was going to play this week regardless of which event he got into. He failed to qualify for Doral after falling to No. 70 in the world.
A 67 Friday, eight shots better than his opening round, was a step in the right direction and guaranteed he’d play the weekend. He finished 43rd at last week’s Honda Classic and has made the cut in two of four stroke-play starts this year. He also finished 42nd at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
“I’ve been struggling with my game for quite some time,” said Stenson, who finished third in last year’s British Open. “I need to get rounds in. Even if you’re playing bad you still have to keep fighting.”
He’s not the only player here who once hoisted one of golf’s big trophies: Two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and former Players Championship winner Stephen Ames are in the field.
“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what the reason is,” Stenson said of his struggles. “I just know myself, I’m quite an analytical person. I have high standards for myself, so if I don’t reach up to them, I want to try to make things right, and that sometimes gets in the way of actually playing the game.
“You end up practicing during tournaments. You want to fix stuff when you’re on the course, instead of spending all your time and effort on getting the ball in the hole.”