Stenson aims for big finish

Struggling Swede aims to get back on track at PGA Championship after disappointing term.

    Stenson's season has been hampered by poor form and illness [GALLO/GETTY]

    Henrik Stenson should have been licking his lips in anticipation for this week's US PGA Championship but, in many respects, his 2010 campaign cannot end soon enough.

    The powerful Swede has struggled for form in what has proved to be one of the worst seasons of his career and his preparations for the year's final major have been hampered by a lingering viral infection.

    "I felt sick on the Tuesday after last month's (British) Open and I was in bed with fever for six or seven days," Stenson told the Reuters news agency ahead of Thursday's first round at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

    "It feels like it's moving in the right direction now but it's been a very long time to get well. I've still got stuff down in my chest and I'm coughing quite a bit out there."

    Last place

    Stenson was hardly able to practise before last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio where he finished last in the 80-strong field with a 20-over-par total.

    "I didn't touch a club for two-and-a-half weeks and I only managed to get nine holes of practice in before the tournament," the 34-year-old said.

    "It's been worse than a mixed bag. It's been my poorest season in these last five or six years for me"

    Henrik Stenson, former world no4

    "Obviously very bad preparation and coming straight from the sick bed wasn't ideal to try and pick up a good result."

    A six-times winner on the European Tour, Stenson has recorded top-six finishes in the last two editions of the PGA Championship but he has no idea how he will fare at Whistling Straits this week.

    He tied for third in last month's British Open at St Andrews, his fifth top-10 placing in a major, to raise his hopes for a good finish to the year before he was struck down by fever.

    "This has kind of thrown me back," said Stenson, a double champion on the PGA Tour.

    "I'm quite far off with my game at the moment but, as we know, things can turn around quite quickly in golf."

    His twin goals of making the European Ryder Cup team and qualifying for the PGA Tour's lucrative FedExCup playoffs are out of reach at the moment but the Swede has by no means surrendered all hope.

    "Playing good golf normally takes care of things but I wasn't able to do that last week," Stenson said.

    "I need a top-three finish this week and then there might still be a bit of hope for me for the Ryder Cup."

    Biggest title

    Stenson won the biggest title of his career at last year's Players Championship, golf's unofficial fifth major, and many expected the Swede to build on that success this season.

    For a variety of reasons, it never panned out.

    "It's been worse than a mixed bag," said Stenson, a former world number four who is now ranked 26th.

    "It's been my poorest season in these last five or six years for me, for sure. The only highlight really was the third at the Open.

    "I've been struggling the whole year. I just hope I can put myself on the right track these last couple of months and then write this season off."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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