Did you see Henrik Stenson's first major championship success coming? The Iceman certainly did...
Speaking to Today's Golfer back in March, Stenson told us 2016 was going to be his year and here's what he had to say.
You must be eager to build on 2015?
Yeah, it was a very good season on the whole, although it was a little bit disappointing I didn't get a win or two under my belt. In one or two tournaments, I didn't finish as strongly as I would have liked, although that was not the case in Munich, where I was way behind.
I think I was 11th going into the last round – but finished 2nd after shooting a 65, one shot behind Pablo Larrazabal.
What's it like competing against the new kids like Rory, Jordan and Rickie?
Firstly, they're all great guys and I enjoy their company, although on the course it's a erce competition and we're all looking to do
whatever we can to beat one another. Having said that, we still manage to have a lot of fun and people wouldn't believe how friendly
things are between us. I remember having a great battle with Rickie at Boston last year and while the galleries were verbally aggressive in support of him, the atmosphere inside the ropes was incredibly cool.
You're not intimidated by them?
Never, why should I be? I know the game inside out by now and have been around the block more than a few times. I realise all the hard work you have to do to get to the top and, more importantly, to stay there. It also helps that I can hit the ball prodigious distances too!
It must be tough maintaining that level?
It sure is – and it's getting tougher – but it's the same in any sport at the highest level and especially as I'm coming up to my 40th birthday. Where has that time gone? It's quite draining on Tour at times and sometimes you don't have enough breaks so it's very much about managing your schedule, otherwise there won't be anything left in the tank.
Like a good wine, you're maturing with age?
I suppose so, but it's all about consistency: I'm doing the same things a little better these days, which is re ected in my long-term goals. I've been at the lower end of the game at some stages in my career and now I'm reaping the rewards of having turned my game around and worked my way up.
Do you have any lingering injury worries?
Before the end of 2015 I had surgery on a nagging problem with my right knee. I'm recovering from that at the moment but hopefully I'll be t to go for the 'Desert Swing' and be back stronger than ever. It didn't bother me a lot but it was going in the wrong direction and obviously I didn't want to run the risk of breaking down in the middle of a huge season.
Can you improve?
Of course. Nobody is the nished article, whether it be Rory, Jordan, Tiger. Nobody. I've always been hard on myself because I'm a perfectionist – I don't like mediocrity. My ball striking is probably the strongest part of my game and I'm looking to do extra work on my putting and short game – usually where it's won or lost on Tour. If you can put all these aspects together, you're in for a good week.
I'm not a spring chicken any more, but believe I've got a few good seasons left in me yet and it's inspiring to have those boys going at it so hard – you just know you've got to up your game, stay with it and practise really hard if you want to be competing with them and winning tournaments.
They've got all the time in the world: they're 20-25 years old and can spend as much time as they want to practise, but it's not so easy to put the quality practice in when you've got family and kids and other commitments. I've got to manage my time so I can still put the work in that I need to otherwise I can't compete with the next generation.
Do you want to be world No.1?
Yes, I must admit I do. The highest I've been in the rankings is second. It would be nice to look back on my career and tell my grandkids that
I was once the best golfer on the planet. But it's not the be-all-and-end-all. If it happens – even for a short period – it would be another feather in my cap.
Chances are you'll represent Sweden in the Olympics too. Would you love a gold medal?
It would be a great honour. This is something completely different for golfers and should provide memories to last a lifetime. I might get a chance to play in 2020, but realistically this is de nitely my big chance of making an Olympic appearance.
You're known as 'The Iceman' but you sometimes get hot under the collar, right?
Who doesn't lose their cool at some time on the golf course?
We all know it can be a frustrating game, and I've had regretful incidents where I've lost it in the locker room or
smashed my driver. Sometimes, when my headgets rocky, my patience wears thin and I let the steam out.
You've been head to head with Tiger in his prime – do you think he can he get back to his best?
He's the last player you would count out and in my book he's the best player ever. I hope he fully recovers from his back surgery and if he does manage to get t and healthy again, I can see him winning again – although I can't see him winning the Majors to overtake Jack Nicklaus' record.
Of all the many great shots you've hit, which stands out most?
The 2009 WGC event at Doral when I found the water on the 3rd and stripped down to my
pants and glove. It was a hot and steamy day and I wanted to avoid spoiling my shoes and
clothes, so I gured I'd play just the way God created me.
What's the best tip you would give to our readers?
Don't eat yellow snow (like I once did!).