STENSON ENJOYS CLIMATE CHANGE


Henrik Stenson has swapped his snow plough for a golf buggy after flying in from the frozen landscape of Sweden to sun-drenched Thailand.

The former world number four was driving the snow clearing vehicle through drifts as deep as three feet before boarding his flight from Stockholm to Hua Hin, venue for this year’s Royal Trophy.

The temperatures dipped as low as minus 22 as Stenson celebrated Christmas and New Year with his family for the first time in five years – he normally spends the winters at his home in Dubai.

He was greeted by his great friend and Royal Trophy team-mate Johan Edfors, who has spent the last four weeks at his villa overlooking the Black Mountain Golf Club, where Europe and Asia will do battle this weekend.

Edfors bought the villa as a reward for his victory in the 2009 Black Mountain Masters, and Stenson remarked: “Johan took great delight in telling me that while I was freezing back home, the temperatures climbed as high as 32 degrees ABOVE.

“I must have gotten soft from being away from home for so long, but I really enjoyed the holiday. This time last week I was driving a snow plough, because there was at least half a metre of snow everywhere, and it was twice as deep in places.

“Now all I want to do is drive a golf ball, and enjoy this great weather. While I was at home we went ski-ing and had snowball fights. I feel happy and refreshed after my break, and I cannot wait to get started.”

Another of the four Swedes in the European team, Peter Hanson, was not feeling quite so relaxed as he flew into Thailand from his winter home in Florida. After enduring a long flight from Orlando to Bangkok – via New York and Abu Dhabi – he arrived to find his luggage had been lost somewhere along the way.

He commented: “It is a bit of a nuisance, but at least my clubs arrived on time, and that is the most important thing.

“We travel so much as golfers that this sort of thing happens maybe five or six times a year. When your bag doesn’t turn up, it’s a good excuse to go and do some shopping. I’m sure it will be here in the next couple of days.”

Hanson will be making his third appearance in European colours in the past year, after helping them to last-gasp victories in the 2010 Royal Trophy and at the Ryder Cup in October.

He added: “It would be nice to be part of a team that won without the result being decided by the final match; which happened in both the last Royal Trophy and the Ryder Cup.

“It is not good for the nerves, or the heart rate, but at least we got the right result on both occasions.

“And I am about to play under the captaincy of Colin Montgomerie for the third time in these big events, and you cannot help but learn from great players like him. Having seen what sort of captain he was in Thailand last year I was even more determined to make his Ryder Cup team.

“To savour those experiences and then to be invited back here for a second time has made this the best year of my career.”

Edfors immediately began explaining the nuances of the Black Mountain course to his team- mates to make sure they are as well-prepared as possible when the fifth Royal Trophy clash gets under way on Thursday.

He said: “I have played the course quite a few times over the past two weeks, in addition to competing in both of the Black Mountain Masters tournaments, so I feel I know the course as well as anyone.

“It favours the long-hitters, so players like myself, Henrik and Peter should certainly enjoy it, but we no longer have such an advantage over the Asian golfers in terms of length. Players like Noh Seung-yul and Ryo Ishikawa can hit a long ball, so I think it is going to be another great match.”

The number of Swedish players in the European ranks rose to four – the third time they have supplied half the European Team – when Fredrik Andersson Hed was drafted in to replace Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, who was forced to withdraw with a neck injury.

Andersson Hed enjoyed easily the finest year of his career in 2010, winning in Italy and finishing runner-up at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

His inclusion makes the European Team look even stronger.

“We are very thankful for the support extended to the Royal Trophy by Royal Thai Government and the Office of the Prime Minister;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“We are very confident that this Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy hosted by the Royal Thai Government and co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, Prachuap Khirikhan Province and Hua Hin Municipality will be a great success;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy is hosted by the Royal Thai Government and is co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd.. The Championship’s international promoter is Entertainment Group Limited.

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