STENSON AIMS TO PROVE HE IS MILES BETTER


Henrik Stenson is about to prove he is prepared to go the extra mile in a bid to complete a remarkable Royal Trophy four-timer in January.

In fact, the former world number four will travel an extra 5,500 miles to make his fourth appearance for Europe in the annual Clash of the Continents against Asia, at the magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.

For his three previous Royal Trophy appearances – which all ended in victory – Stenson has made the short hop from his home in Dubai, where he spends the European winters working on his game in the favourable Emirates climate. But this time he will making a much longer trip, after flying back to his Swedish birthplace to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holiday with his family.

The Swedish star commented: “I suppose this Royal Trophy represents a far greater commitment than my two previous appearances, when it involved a relatively short flight and not much of a difference in terms of times zones.

“This time we will be going home to spend Christmas and New Year in the north of Sweden for the first time in five years. My daughter, Lisa is three and a half now and my son, Karl, is one, so we feel the time is right for a big family get-together.

“Lisa has been having ski-ing lessons at Ski Dubai, and now she will see real snow for the first time. We are all very excited about it, but I could not miss the opportunity of playing in the Royal Trophy again. It is a competition that has been very good to me in the past, as I have been lucky enough to hole the winning putt in two of my previous appearances, and it is an Event that I really enjoy playing in.

“So even though I will have to travel a few thousand miles further this time, and make more of an adjustment to the body clock, I was always fully committed to represent Europe once again.

“Playing competitively so early in the year seems to suit me. Each time I have played the Royal Trophy in the past I have gone on to play well in the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’ straight afterwards, and I’m hoping it will be the same this time. There is a clear week between the Royal Trophy and the Abu Dhabi Championship, which is next door to Dubai, so I can get back there and prepare knowing it will not be such a big adjustment once we leave Thailand.

“I know that when I get to Hua Hin the adrenaline will kick in straight away. I love match play, specially the team format and better ball, and it seems you invariably end up having good matches. It doesn’t happen very often that one guy or one pairing plays great and the opposition plays poorly. It is pretty rare for matches to be all over with plenty of holes to play.

“I’ve generally found that the matches at this level tend to be pretty even, and looking at the two teams this time I’m certain that will be the case again. It usually all comes down to the final holes, and luckily for me, I seem to respond well in those situations. I’ve hit good shots at the right time, holed some clutch putts, and got the job done more often than not.”

Stenson has certainly shown a knack for rising to the occasion in big match play events. In addition to holing the winning putts to clinch Royal Trophy triumphs for Europe in 2006 and 2010 – and emerging unbeaten in their runaway 2007 win – he was also the match-winning hero when he made his Ryder Cup debut in 2006.

In 2007 he also won the biggest individual match play event on the global golfing calendar, the Accenture World Match Play Championship, limited to the top 64 players in the world rankings. And a year later he partnered Robert Karlsson – twice a Royal Trophy team-mate – to an emphatic victory at another big match play shoot-out, the World Cup of Golf.

With that sort of match play pedigree, Stenson is unlikely to find the change from the icy landscape of northern Sweden for the sun-drenched coast of Thailand too much of a shock to the system when the eagerly – anticipated fifth edition of the Royal Trophy tees off on 7 January.

“We express our appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for hosting the Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“We are especially thankful to the Office of the Prime Minister for the support extended to this great Championship;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy is hosted by the Royal Thai Government; organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand in conjunction with the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd.; and is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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