Swede Henrik Stenson Hopes His Fitness Can Power Him Through 2020

Henrik Stenson is yet another major winner who has also gone close in the other three blue riband events on the golfing calendar.

The Swede won at Royal Troon in 2016, making him the first player from his country to record a major tournament victory when clinching The Open. In the process, he set one record and matched another.

His final round of 63 on the Sunday tied the best-ever score in 18 holes on the fourth day of a major championship, an honour he shares with American Jonny Miller, whose own round was at the US Open in 1973.

Stenson’s total of 264 for the tournament was the lowest ever score in any major championship and it saw him beat five-time major winner Phil Mickleson by three strokes. The 43-year-old – who turned professional in 1998 – has 21 pro wins, with six on the PGA and 11 on the European Tour and has appeared in five Ryder Cups.

As he looks to embark on another season in the spotlight, Stenson is upping his fitness game to extend that honours list further, as he reveals to RSNG…

RSNG You’ve always been a player who looks to use fitness as a way of staying as consistent as you can. Now that you are in your 40s, is that more important than ever? HENRIK STENSON, PRO GOLFER ‘Well, everybody ages – that’s the way life works, isn’t it? There's no way of stopping the ageing process, so you’ve always got to manage your body as best you can, stay in the right shape to do as much as you can.’

‘I would like to think that I am still in pretty good shape, although I have had to unfortunately undergo some minor surgery on my elbow in recent times, and knee operations before that. But I am hoping that I have a little bit more left to give before I have to put my clubs away for good.’

RSNG The elbow injury is so damning in a sport such as golf, isn’t it? HS ‘It certainly is and it’s so key to the swing and how you play the game. With it being such a repetitive motion and sequence, and it really does take its toll on that part of the body.’

‘I would say that the majority of players go through the year and the season with little issues, which could be injury-related.’

RSNG Where are the most affected areas? HS ‘Certainly the back, elbow, knee or neck. Other than those operations that I have had in the past, I do feel quite fortunate that I haven’t had too many other difficulties with injuries or anything similar to that.’

Nick Faldo knew he was going to have to really put some effort into keeping in shape if he was going to be able to buy some extra competitive time

RSNG There seems to be a new ethos of injury prevention in the sport rather than recovery? HS ‘That’s true, and this has been really gathering pace over the past few years.’

‘I speak to some of those great golfers of old and it’s all alien to them. The guys of the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s were never coached or trained in conditioning and body resilience, and I would imagine they missed much more golf than they should have, or played to a lower grade than they might have.’

‘I remember a lot of fuss over Nick Faldo when he started working on his body towards the end of his career. He knew he was going to have to really put some effort into keeping himself in shape if he was going to be able to buy some extra competitive time in his career.’

‘I remember the newspapers commenting on how much bigger his neck was, and it seems crazy now that it would even be a story. He was just doing what any golfer would do – he was prolonging his career for as long as he could.’

RSNG You’ve played on both the PGA and European Tours for quite some time. Do you find it suits you better to compete across the rather than just stay dedicated to one tour? HS ‘I do, yeah. I have been across both for many years and I always make sure that the schedule that I set out for the season can take on the different challenges of both.’

‘I have to take many things into consideration for this, as I have a family and sponsors and all that. For a long time I was playing about 30 events between both of the tour calendars and that became a bit too extensive, so I was forced to truncate that to around 25.’

‘It wouldn’t be such an issue if I was just concentrating on the one tour, because 30 events in one calendar is not excessive, at all. In fact, that is probably missing out quite a chunk of tournaments and by doing that, it would probably mean you losing bit of consistency by having too many breaks.’

‘Playing 30 across two tours adds a lot more because of the travelling, but your game becomes much more rounded, and the experiences of adventures across the world are greater, obviously.’

The fans never, ever let Europe down – they are always loud and boisterous

RSNG This year sees the Olympics return and golf will again be on the schedule. You represented Sweden when it was selected as an Olympic sport for the first time in 2016 in Brazil, and you won a silver medal. What are your memories of that? HS ‘I thought it was a really fun experience. Even as a spectator, I had never been to an Olympic Games before that. It was such a great spectacle and I was so happy to have played well. Obviously to bring back a medal for my country was a real thrill.’

‘There were some concerns and worries with the Zika virus before we travelled over there and I know that there was a real threat that the Olympics might not even have taken place. A few players pulled out due to the concerns over that, but I’m glad I was able to compete and bring back a medal.’

RSNG It’s another Ryder Cup year – you’ve played in a lot of them and have been a part of three winning sides for Europe. Where does it stand in order of importance for you as a player? HS ‘I always put the Ryder Cup high on my agenda and to have been a part of winning three is really something that I always think about and tell my grandchildren.’

‘The fans never, ever let Europe down, they are always loud and boisterous – and at the right times – and although you’re playing against the American players, we all have a lot of good friends on that team as we play with them on the tour every week.’

‘I absolutely love playing for my continent. It is a thrill right up there with the Olympics. That Ryder Cup week where you all come together as European team-mates is just an unbelievable experience. All I need to do is make sure I stay on form, and fit!’

WHAT NEXT? Want to improve your golf swing? Then read RSNG’s myth-busting guide with PGA Professional Coach Kevin Craggs.

And if you want to see more of Henrik Stenson, then catch this hole-in-one at the Scandinavian Invitation in December 2019.

Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.