Stenson feels age but stays sharp ahead of crucial Ryder Cup year

Matt Jones - Editor 21:40 16/01/2018
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Henrik Stenson admits he’s not very good at playing FIFA, but he could play a good father figure role to any youngsters and rookies who make this year’s Ryder Cup team.

Should the 41-year-old make a fifth team appearance in France in September, he is likely to be the elder statesman of the group, having had Lee Westwood older than him two years ago in Hazeltine.

Currently occupying 13th in the European points rankings, Swede Stenson admitted he will manage his calendar a little better this year after getting “swamped” in 2017 following his first major success at The Open in 2016.

But he is adamant that Ryder Cup year will invigorate him and every other player hoping to make captain Thomas Bjorn’s 12-man squad.

“It’s exciting times. I played four Ryder Cup teams and I’d love to be there in Paris of course,” Stenson said ahead of appearing at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the UAE capital this weekend.

“It’s so much fun both on and off the course, it’s competition at its finest and a week that you don’t want to miss when you’ve been there and know what it’s all about.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden

“I wouldn’t say I’ll change my schedule a lot. Because it’s a Ryder Cup year, I hope that I can perform enough in these 20 events or whatever we play up until then to accumulate the points to be part of the team.

“But of course it’s there in the back of your mind and if you ever need a little bit of a kick in the butt to go out and practice, you certainly don’t need to think too long about that when you have that on the horizon.”

Dane Bjorn ran the rule over potential players to pick for September’s Ryder Cup in France when he led Europe to a 14-10 victory over Asia in the third EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last weekend.

His fellow Scandinavian Stenson lost his opening four-balls match with France’s Alexander Levy 5&4 to South Korea’s Kang Sung-hoon and Thailand’s Poom Saksansin, but recovered to win Saturday’s foursomes alongside reigning Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood 3&2 against Indian duo Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Chawrasia.

He also beat Japan’s Hideto Tanihara 2&1 as Europe stormed from behind to win Sunday’s singles 8-4 to take the overall title.

Stenson

And Stenson joked that while he was no good at computer game FIFA, he had most of the youngsters beat at table tennis.

“It was good to spend time with some of the younger guys. I wouldn’t say I’m almost old enough to be their dad but we’re kind of getting there,” joked Stenson.

“It was a relaxed week in the team room. I know there’s certainly a lot of guys who are better at playing FIFA than I am. I could tell that Matt Fitzpatrick’s played FIFA a lot, so I guess that’s the one thing I envy them. I’m not good at computer games.

“I know I can keep up with a few guys on the table tennis side of things. But I think it was just a good week for everyone to kind of get going. We got to try out some potential pairings.

“You never know what the future holds in terms of Ryder Cups. Of course, you’re going to see a number of players that were in Malaysia last week teeing it up in France.

Tommy Fleetwood of Europe talks to Henrik Stenson

“So it was certainly a chance for Thomas and for ourselves to get a chance to try some of that out. I think you just take those things with you.”

In recent Ryder Cups, Stenson has enjoyed success with Justin Rose and he admitted he would relish both continuing his lucrative partnership with the Englishman or forging a winning partnership with one of the new breed, particularly Rose’s compatriot, Fleetwood.

“Yeah, he’s (Rose) also younger than me. Maybe not quite as much,” laughed Stenson.

“No, of course I’d hope for both Justin and myself to be there in Paris and continuing our great partnership.

“But I really enjoyed playing with Tommy last week and I definitely see that as a possible pairing, as well, if we both make it there. You know, Justin is not a spring chicken anymore, so he might need to rest a round, so maybe I could play with Tommy.”

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