YES says Mark Townsend, who expects more of the same from the Swede
There was much to enjoy about 2013 – particularly four of the good guys winning the Majors – but, for many, THE golfer of the year didn’t win a Major.
In 2012 he didn’t even play in three of them and, sadly, he wasn’t part of the heroics at Medinah. We have to go back to 2008 for his last Ryder Cup.
Yet, Henrik Stenson is virtually already assured of his place at Gleneagles. We all know about the highs and lows of the Swede’s career and his inability to ‘keep it on the golf course’ back in the really dark days. In 2010 and 11 he was as likely to miss the cut as make it on to the third page of any leaderboard.
Plenty was made of his financial problems, less so of his physical condition. His coach, Pete Cowen, maintains that Stenson is at his best when physically strong and this was a period when he was struggling with a bout of pneumonia.
Our favourite Swede is now bursting with strength, both physically and mentally. He is now at an altogether different level to anything that has gone before; he is a serious contender in Majors and he should arrive at Augusta as confident as anyone.
Confidence and positive mental notes on the psyche are often the missing ingredient for top-level players, Stenson can look back on three wins since September, two of them to secure the ‘double-double’ on the two main Tours.
Expect more of the same from Henrik this term.
NO says James Tompkinson, who thinks the big 4 might be beyond him
There is no denying that Stenson enjoyed a remarkable 2013. To win both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai was incredibly special and, for me, Stenson was, without question, the standout player of the season.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is guaranteed success in 2014.
Rewind 12 months and Rory McIlroy was the name on everybody’s lips, with golfers and the media positively salivating at the prospect of what Rory, armed with a brand new sponsorship deal, could achieve in 2013.
McIlroy’s struggles were well-documented last season, and although it would be a stretch to say that Stenson will nose-dive in a similar fashion, it would be equally naïve to think that his unparalleled form will simply continue for an indefinite period.
You should also think twice before backing Stenson in the Majors, with history standing firmly against the 37-year-old.
Only Tiger Woods has managed to win a Major in the season following a FedEx Cup victory, and nobody has managed it after winning the Race to Dubai. So to start placing all your hopes on him now may well be misguided.
We should all be mindful that form is very much a temporary thing, even at the very top level. Stenson has already managed to overcome adversity in his career, but we are yet to see how he reacts when expectation levels are raised.