The Open 2013: Henrik Stenson puts slump behind him


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The Independent Online

Henrik Stenson believes rolling with the punches is the key to his attempt to become the first Swedish man to win a major title.

Stenson carded a second consecutive round of 70 yesterday to share the clubhouse lead with Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods midway through the second afternoon.

“I kind of know what to expect,” said the 37-year-old, who was third at The Opens at Birkdale in 2008 and at St Andrews in 2010. “I’m just very happy, I’m taking all my hits on the chin and just moving on. That’s kind of the mindset you have to have at these events. You know it’s going to be tough and sometimes you might not feel like it’s fair, but we’re all playing the same course and you’ve got to keep on going forward, not backwards.

“It’s a tough one, but I’m very happy with the patience and then the mental balance that I’ve managed to keep these first two days, to leave with a double bogey [on the sixth], and go up and birdie the next and pretend it never happened. That’s one of the secrets to doing well in this game and especially in these tournaments, and I’ve done well so far.”

Stenson won his maiden European Tour title in 2001 but then went through the first of two career slumps, the second coming in 2011 and leaving him 230th in the world rankings at the start of last year.

Now back up to 30th, the former Ryder Cup player took a two-shot lead into the final round of the Scottish Open last week only to finish third after a closing 73.

“I’m up here and playing in a big tournament again,” he added. “I think I’ve got the experience to do well in these championships. Tough conditions is something that I enjoy and suits my game as well. I might still look for a bit more confidence and a bit more trust in my long game. I feel like I’ve been a bit wishy-washy these two days but at times I’ve hit some nice ones and committed to some good shots as well. Obviously I would like to be the first Swede or Scandinavian to win a major. We’ve got some work to do before we talk about that. I’d rather talk about how that feels on Sunday, if it happens.”

Scotland’s Martin Laird is relishing the prospect of home support over the weekend after he added a 71 to his opening 70 to finish one under par and well on course for his best performance in the event after three missed cuts in succession from 2009 and a tie for 72nd at Lytham 12 months ago.

“I think it will help me more than hurt me,” the 30-year-old Glaswegian said. “I probably have higher expectations for myself than everyone in the crowd. It’s not something I’m really worried about. You can only look at it as something that can help you. They can pull you along. Even as I was struggling, you hear people shouting ‘come on’ and giving you support, and that’s only a good thing.”

Laird could have been even higher up the leaderboard if not for dropped shots at the 14th and 17th. “Overall I didn’t really play that well today,” he admitted. “So shooting even par shows my game is in a good spot, because I really didn’t hit a good golf shot until the seventh or eighth hole today. I struggled coming out. I had a nice little hot stretch there in the middle and I held it together coming in.”