Stenson: My Ryder Cup battle

Golf News

Missing the Ryder Cup in 2010 and 2012 left a huge hole in Henrik Stenson's career. And, he tells Alex Perry, he doesn't plan on going through similar heartache this year

Is being captain yourself something you think about?

It’s a great honour to be a Ryder Cup captain and if I get asked I’m pretty sure I will take that on.

It takes a lot of time I know that, I’ve seen it from the inside now with Darren and Thomas and Paul. It’s a lot of things to do, media is a big part of it and so on but it’s a great honour and I’ll accept it if I ever get the question down the road.

Who has been your favourite captain to play under?

I think it was strongly communicated that Paul did a great job for us at Gleneagles but I don’t think there’s a top list that you would go through in that sense.

Everyone that I’ve played under has tried there hardest and done many good things, I’m sure there’s more captains in the future that want to do things different. It’s always the case, it’s the same with us, you’d hit a 6-iron instead of a 5-iron, your decision with the information for the time being and there’s always the odd time that you might have wanted to do something different. You’re there and you try your best as a player and a captain.

The team was pretty outspoken that Paul did a great job in Gleneagles but you can have a captain who does a really good job but doesn’t win, it doesn’t always have to be the same, you can have a coach that loses the final, it doesn’t have to mean that because you’re winning that the captain is fabulous and the players are fabulous. It can pan out many different ways I think.

Since your Open win at Troon in 2016, Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari are the only non-American players to win majors. Is that a concern?

We could see it on their last Ryder Cup team a couple of years ago, the US made a transition and they’ve got a lot of strong new players coming on the scene. It goes back and forth.

I remember back in the day when Padraig won two Opens and a PGA Championship, at that point it was pretty weak on the major scene for European golfers and then G-Mac and Rory won back-to-back US Opens and we managed to clinch quite a few, including Kaymer, myself, Willett.

The Americans are just having a wave at the moment. I’m pretty sure we’ll have more European winners get a major championship in the years to come. At this point the younger Americans are very strong with Dustin, Justin, Brooks and Jordan and a few other guys so I think it’s just natural ups and downs and you have your good runs and then it might be a little bit less for a while but they normally come back.

Are the Americans still favourites? How would set up the course to favour the European team?

Well I think it’s always the home advantage in the Ryder Cup with the crowd and the course set up. It was pretty obvious in Hazeltine that the American team didn’t want to have any rough because they know that historically the Europeans are better at finding fairways than the American players. They pretty much opened the course up and cut the rough down and you could have a shot from anywhere and get it on the green.

Historically they’ve been stronger putters than the Europeans on quick greens. I think we’ve seen a change because some of the top Europeans are living and playing in America and are more customised to playing on the American courses and quicker greens and so on and it’s kind of levelled that playing field a little bit but I think set up wise for Paris I would imagine tighter fairways and thicker rough with slower greens, that would be more of a set up to favour the Europeans.

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