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Henrik Stenson’s Open Championship Mindset Before the Tournament

The new Open winner talked about how he prepares on ‘ShackHouse’

AP Images
AP Images

A few weeks before the Open Championship, newly-crowned winner Henrik Stenson called into the ShackHouse podcast. Stenson talked about many topics, including how he prepares for this tournament and why he has performed well in it. His comments turned out to be more prescient than he could have known. Read an excerpt from the interview below, and listen to the entire episode here. The transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Joe House: You were off this week and then you play the Scottish at Castle Stuart then the Open Championship at Troon. Can you take us through those two golf courses? You’ve played Castle Stuart before, I don’t know if you played Troon. You did not play in the 2004 Open Championship there.

Henrik Stenson: That’s correct. I’ve got a similar prep [as] I had in ’13, which worked out really well for me. I play the Scottish Open as a lead-up to the Open Championship. Castle Stuart is more of a resort link, so you get the feel of links but it’s not killing you and the rough is playable. There’s not too much bunkering. You get a good, soft start-up to links golf, rather than [the] thick, high rough and deep bunkers that you expect at the Open. Troon I didn’t play in ’04, and I hear it’s a pretty tough one.

J.H.: Have you subscribed, did you subscribe, or [have you] changed your views on the idea that you can play too much links golf? We saw a lot of players who believe that too many weeks in a row of playing on links will mess up their swing or mess up their mindset. Were you one of those players?

H.S.: Well, I think it’s hard to go from regular target golf training to links. That’s been the way I’ve looked at it in the past. There are two ways to go about it: You either play the Scottish Open the week before, if it’s at a links course. Which, back in the day, at Loch Lomond, it wasn’t. It didn’t make as much sense back then, but now we’re playing links courses.

The other option would be to go either to Ireland or Scotland and just play some rounds — links golf practice, get a feel for it in the lead-up to the Open Championship … I don’t feel like I can spend a month trying to prepare for the Open. I think if you’ve got a good week before the tournament, that’s enough [time to prepare], and, like with anything, too much or not enough is never going to be great. I think a week is probably the best.

J.H.: You’ve had a lot of great finishes at the Open. What do you love about that championship more than maybe any of the others?

H.S.: I think it’s the possibility to be creative. There’s not a right or a wrong on any shot. You can play along the ground, you can flop it, you can play something halfway between. There’s always a lot of different ways to play a shot, and you’ve got to make up your mind and go with the one that you feel is the most efficient.

There [have] been … windy and tricky conditions, [but] I’ve had a lot of good results and played a lot of good tournaments … The harder it gets, I’m pretty sharp with my long irons and finding fairways when I need to. The tougher it gets the more it kind of plays into my hand as well.