Can Henrik make it a double at The 146th Open?
Henrik Stenson couldn’t hide his delight after picking up his second Race to Dubai trophy at the season finale championship on Sunday.
Not just because it meant that the 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year was confirmed as Europe’s number 1 golfer – but Stenson, who resides in Florida, now has a trophy for each of his family homes in Sweden and America.
His tied for ninth finish at the DP World Tour Championship was enough to keep Danny Willet and Alex Noren at bay as Stenson finished top of the rankings. It capped a wonderful year for the Swede in which he lifted the Claret Jug after capturing his first Major Championship victory in The Open at Royal Troon.
“It's been a great year. It's been the best year of my career when I sum it up, and this certainly didn't make it any worse,” said an elated Stenson.
“There’s some very nice names on this trophy so I'm delighted and proud to get my name on it again. It's hard enough to do one time but to do two is something I'm very pleased with, and of course it shows how well I played over the course of the year.”
In June, Stenson became the fourth two-time winner of the BMW International Open – so that’s both homes sorted with that trophy too.
Stenson’s epic final day battle with Phil Mickelson on the Ayshire coast will go down as one of the greatest in the history of The Open.
However, while that victory made 2016 “the best year of his career” that’s still only one…
“It would be nice to win another Major,” suggested Stenson when asked about his targets next year.
So, can Stenson emulate Padraig Harrington when he defends The Open at Royal Birkdale in July 2017?
Harrington won his first Major Championship in The Open at Carnoustie in 2007 – and then retained the Claret Jug at the Lancashire links the following year.
There’s only one way to see the drama unfold as Europe’s Number 1 takes on the world’s biggest golf stars at Royal Birkdale from 16 – 23 July 2017.
This is the one, The Open.
Following the conclusion of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, several leading players have already booked their place at The Open.
The top 30 players receive an exemption for the Championship and are as follows: Danny Willett, Alex Noren, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Branden Grace, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Bernd Wiesberger, Chris Wood, Thorbjorn Olesen, Lee Westwood, Andy Sullivan, Joost Luiten, Jeunghun Wang, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Ross Fisher, Charl Schwartzel, Haotong Li, Thongchai Jaidee, Thomas Pieters, Scott Hend, Richard Bland, David Horsey and Shane Lowry.
America’s Kent Bulle also secured his spot at the Open after winning the 11th Visa Open de Argentina presented by ODSE at Olivos Golf Club on Sunday. It is the first time the winner of the tournament receives an exemption for The Open.