After a host of near misses, Henrik Stenson at last has a major title to his name after edging out Phil Mickelson to claim the Open Championship on Sunday.
The Swede’s victory was a hugely popular one among fans, pundits, and players, with Stenson one of the most well-liked players on the circuit. After many years of toil, the 40-year-old was at last able to enjoy his moment of golfing magic at Royal Troon.
Here are five things you might not have known about Stenson…
1. He lost millions of dollars in disgraced financier Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme in 2009, just months before the biggest victory of his career to date in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. “I never met Allen Stanford and it’s safe to say I won’t be visiting him in prison,” Stenson told Golf Digest in 2014. “If I did come face-to-face with him, what I might do to him could get me arrested also.” In 2013, Stenson won 11.4 million dollars by winning the Tour Championship and overall FedEx Cup title in Atlanta.
He added of his thoughts after winning the FedEx Cup: “The plane that I was on very possibly flew over the federal prison in Florida where he’s serving a sentence that could be the rest of his life. There’s some satisfaction in that, but I also think of the people who lost a tremendous amount of money to him but weren’t fortunate enough to be in a position to make a lot of it back.”
2. In the 2007 Open at Carnoustie he was fined £500 for smashing a tee marker on the eighth hole following a poor shot. And in 2013 he snapped his driver in frustration on the final hole of the BMW Championship before damaging his locker. Stenson “apologised to the appropriate parties” and paid for the damage, according to his agent.
3. Known for his dry sense of humour, Stenson was asked after the birth of his daughter Alice in October 2014 whether he and his wife Emma planned to have more children. The 40-year-old joked that he hadn’t “done any official snip-snips as of now” before the assembled reporters burst out laughing. When his questioner insisted that wasn’t what he asked, Stenson replied: “But that’s what you wanted to know. You just didn’t have the balls to ask.”
4. After winning his first European Tour title in 2001, Stenson went through the first of two major slumps and was prone to particularly wild shots. “I was terrified of taking someone’s head off with a drive,” he said. “Standing on the tee, I’d see the tunnel of people just in front of the tee box, craning their necks forward to watch, oblivious to the very real danger they were in. Coming back from that dark place mentally has probably been my best accomplishment.”
He added to Golf.com: “I felt depressed and embarrassed to be seen on the course. But I have never been a quitter. I was quite good at separating how bad I was playing and feeling on the golf course and leaving it there at the course. But of course I was down in the dumps for a while. Everybody who has played this game long enough understands how it feels when you are playing [expletive].”
5. Stenson still gets reminded of the time he stripped down to his underwear to play a shot from the edge of a water hazard during a tournament at Doral in 2009. Although his remaining attire was not that of his clothing sponsors, they saw the funny side and sent packages of their underwear to other sponsored players with one of the pictures of Stenson and a reminder which read: “If you’re caught in a similar situation, please wear the brand in the enclosed package.”
Stenson’s performance at Royal Troon was nothing short of sensational. To shoot a 63 on Sunday is truly special.
Here are the numbers behind Stenson’s victory:
40 – Age
63 – Final round score, becoming only the second player to shoot that number in the last round of a major after Johnny Miller won the 1973 US Open at Oakmont.
20 – The record-equalling under-par score for a major, beating Tiger Woods’ 19-under Open mark
264 – Best 72-hole total in a major
10 – Birdies made in his final round
79 – Percentage of fairways hit in final round
89 – Percentage of greens in regulation in final round
288 – Average driving distance (in yards) in final round
27 – Number of putts over the last 18 holes
25 – Birdies made in the tournament
1,175,000 – Prize money (in pounds) for winning The Open
With reporting from Press Association Sport