Henrik Stenson has said goodbye to one of his best friends.
Through thick and thin since 2009, Stenson never hesitated calling on his buddy, and more times than not it delivered. En route to capturing 10 of his 20 victories as a professional, including the 2009 Players, 2013 and 2014 DP World Tour Championships, 2013 Tour Championship and the 2016 British Open, Stenson’s friend was by his side.
From the first tee to the 18th green, the two were a lethal 1-2 punch on golf courses the world over.
But when Stenson heads to the 10th tee Thursday for the first round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston, he’ll do so without his pal, the Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood with the blue shaft.
The club has been retired, and Stenson said he might post a eulogy on social media when the time is right. It’s tough saying goodbye to a friend, but Stenson’s golf life is moving on.
“We’ve got a new one in the bag that seems to be working pretty good, so I’m not too worried on that,” he said. “But when a club gives up after you’ve had it for a long time, it’s going to take a little bit of time to get used to.”
Stenson held off for as long as he could as equipment advanced up technology’s ladder because of the comfort level he felt with the 3-wood and the performance it delivered. He also used it in winning the 2013 FedExCup title and the silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The original Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood lasted until 2016 when wear and tear forced him to go to a backup of the same model.
That club lasted until 2017, when he again was forced to go to a backup of the same model. But when the latest club’s face caved in on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship in England last month, Stenson knew it was time to find a new 3-wood. Goodbye friend, hello 13.5-degree Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero.
“Certainly, the newer 3-woods have better technology, they go further,” he said.
Stenson will have another difference with which he’ll need to adjust. The 43-year-old Swede has finished runner-up in Houston in 2013 and 2016 and tied for third in 2009 and tied for sixth in 2018. But the longtime PGA Tour stop in the Space City used to occupy the weekly spot ahead of the Masters in April.
The tournament has moved to a new slot as part of the fall schedule, and Stenson is making his first start in the U.S. during the fall since the Tour went to a wraparound schedule in 2013.
“It’s a little different,” said Stenson, who at No. 37 is the highest-ranked player in the field. “It’s Bermuda grass instead of what we have in April. I think the course is going to play a little different this time around. Maybe a little bit more emphasis on fairways and greens than it has been on the other end.”
Stenson has played just twice since July, when he hit a wall after playing 18 events and felt he was just going through the motions. That’s one reason he skipped the FedExCup Playoffs.
But he’s refreshed and ready for a busy stretch of golf that begins in Texas.
“There’s certainly some parts of the game that’s not too bad, but all in all, I don’t feel like I’m super confident with my game at the moment,” he said. “We’ve still got some work to do to find that form where you can freewheel it a little bit more. Every day, every practice session you hope you get a little bit closer, so we just keep on grinding away.
“All in all, we’re back in Houston. Nice people around here, good crowds out there and it’s a good golf course I like and I’ve done well in the past.
“I hope I can have a good week.”
One that includes forming a lasting relationship with a new (3-wood) friend.