Scott can relate to Stenson's occupational struggles
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Much attention has been given to Henrik Stenson’s rejuvenated career – and for good reason.
“It is phenomenal. He’s just shooting the lights out,” said Adam Scott.
All Stenson has done since mid-July is finish second in the Scottish Open, second in the Open Championship, joint second in the Bridgestone Invitational, third in the PGA, tied for 43rd at The Barclays, and first at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Mix ‘em all together and you get 52 under for 24 rounds of golf. Lights out, indeed.
Scott’s appreciation is meaningful, because he can truly relate to the struggles that are an inherent part of the occupation. The greatest player of this generation – arguably all time – is Tiger Woods and if you consider how miserable his golf was in 2010 and 2011, then you know that it’s ignorant to think these guys always find the optimum competitive mode.
Sometimes they just don’t have it, for whatever reason, but explanations fall into one of two categories. On-course and off-course.
For whatever reason, the public is more fascinated by situations in the off-course category and the media is ready and happy to fuel these fires – especially if there is a celebrity girlfriend or romantic interest involved. It’s juicier to ponder these quandaries than chew on the fact that a player is fighting a bad swing thought or trying to play around demons.
It was the rage to discuss how Woods’ personal life imploded and not believe that he did develop some bad swing habits. Scott hit the wall in 2009 and when it carried into 2010, he was dogged by media curiosities as to what off-course problem was hindering his golf.
Same with Stenson, who rose to as high as No. 4 in the world rankings in the spring of 2009, then slipped into a period of lackluster play. Many believe that being caught up in the financial misdoings of Allen Stanford was the cause of Stenson’s woes, but the Swede insists he dealt with that and that his bad golf was the result of . . . well, bad golf – be it a swing flaw or a mental block.
Scott knows from where Stenson is coming and insists that off-course problems aren’t as severe as on-course issues. Issues in one’s personal life? “Time heals all those kinds of problems,” Scott said. “No matter what the result or whatever happened, it takes time.
“But I think bad shots can scar you for life.”
The Aussie had a little laugh with that last statement, but his point was serious – working out issues with a golf game, especially at the highest level where one bad swing can be so costly, is not an easy task.
“It’s hard to work out a bad habit or a bad shot you don’t like or a shot you fear,” Scott said. “I think that’s very, very hard to work out of your game. It’s just hard work. Takes a lot of mental strength.”
Scott battled through a rough time with his game and is in position to marvel at how Stenson has done similarly. Not just this most recent time, either; no, the Aussie remembers very well a bad stretch in Stenson’s career back in 2002.
“He won the Benson & Hedges (in 2001) and that was a big tournament in Europe. Then in 2002 I remember playing with him in Germany and the guy wasn’t on the same golf course. It was horrible. Just fascinating.
“When you’ve been down as much as he’s been down, where he feels like he can’t even hit the driving range with a shot, to turn it all around and kind of bury those demons? Phenomenal.”
Scott can credit a lot of hard work that pulled him through his rough patch, but he also has a cool demeanor and engaging personality that has kept him anchored through good and bad. Likewise, Stenson’s character has allowed him to ride out the storm.
“He’s young at heart, that’s for sure,” Scott said. “He likes having fun. He can take some of the tough stuff in golf that’s been thrown at him with a grain of salt and see the silver lining.”