STENSON DETERMINED TO PLAY AT THE ROYAL TROPHY
Henrik Stenson is determined to add to his record tally of five appearances for Europe in the Royal Trophy after reluctantly missing out on the latest thrilling shoot-out. Stenson was absent from the 2013 edition of the championship held at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China for only the second time since the Royal Trophy was launched eight years earlier.
That was entirely due to the punishing schedule he took on, as he established himself as the hottest golfer on the planet by becoming the first player to win both the FedEx Cup Series in the United States and the European Tour’s Order of Merit. But he admits to feeling a few pangs of remorse as he watched the Royal Trophy reach yet another pulsating climax, with the European Team overturning a 7-3 deficit to run out 8 ½ – 7 ½ winners after an incredible fightback in the singles session.
The world number 3 explained: “When you watch a comeback like that unfold from afar you naturally wish you could have been a part of it, especially when you consider the special affinity I have with the Royal Trophy after playing in five of the first six matches.
“I spoke to some of the players who were involved in that European victory, and the excitement in their voices and their descriptions of what a great venue and how well-organised everything was once again made me even more disappointed to have missed out.
“I wish I could have been there, but I had to play a lot of extra tournaments to achieve my target of becoming the first player to achieve the ‘dream double’ – winning both the FedEx Cup title and finishing top of the Race to Dubai standings. In the end I played more than thirty tournaments in 2013, and I kept going right until mid-December, and by that time I was feeling both exhausted and mentally drained. I was also playing with a wrist injury towards the end of the year, and I definitely needed to rest it to prevent it getting any worse.
“But I would love to be involved in the Royal Trophy again in the future. Everyone who knows me recognises that I love playing in team events – as well as my five Royal Trophy appearances I have played in two Ryder Cups and two Seve Trophy matches, and they have all been fantastic experiences.”
The super-Swede’s sizzling form in 2013 meant he accumulated enough qualifying points to clinch a third Ryder Cup outing with almost a year to spare, as the first name on the European team sheet. And Stenson’s competitive spirit shone through as he admitted he still has some unfinished business in both The Ryder Cup and the Royal Trophy.
He added: “I was lucky enough to hole the winning putt in my first Ryder Cup in 2006, but then finished on the losing side in my second one two years later, and I would have hated to have finished on that low note if it had proved to be my final Ryder Cup.
“And you can say the same thing about my Royal Trophy record. After being on the winning side in my first four appearances – and holing the winning putt twice – it did not feel nice being on the losing side for a change in 2012. I definitely do not want it to end like that, so yes, I’m sure you will see me back at the Royal Trophy looking for win number five before too long.”
The Royal Trophy is the official and established competition played between the continents of Europe and Asia. The event originated from a meeting held in 2001 between the late legendary five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros, his nephew and manager Ivan Ballesteros and sports entrepreneur Lincoln Venancio. The championship is officially sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour, a full member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, and the China Golf Association, the People’s Republic’s governmental authority for the sport. The event is also supported by the OneAsia Tour.
The European Team will defend stewardship of the perpetual sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Royal Trophy graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand when the continents meet again at Dragon Lake Golf Club on 19-21 December 2014.