Lofty hopes for defending champ Stenson
Defending champion Henrik Stenson has promised to take the Claret Jug skydiving if he ever wins The Open again.
The Swede made his surprise announcement after a year as Champion Golfer of the Year during which he has taken the famous trophy jet-skiing in Florida and sipped various "drinks of French heritage" out of it at gatherings all over the world.
“It's almost become part of the family,” he said just over 24 hours after handing it back to The R&A. “It's been traveling with me around the world and it brings a lot of smiles to enthusiastic golfers when they get to hold it and take pictures with the Claret Jug.
“I think taking it jet-skiing is probably the goofiest thing we did with it, but I've made an official promise that if I ever win the Claret Jug again, I'm going skydiving with it.
“The thought scares me a little bit,” he added. “But it won't stop me from trying to win it, though.”
Stenson believes his game is in much the same shape it was twelve months ago when he edged Phil Mickelson after one of the most dramatic final days in the history of The Open.
“I don't feel like I've had the consistency I want to have and I don’t think I had that last year, if I compare it to 2013,” he admitted. “Last year was the best year of my career. I played my best at a few events that really mattered but I wasn’t as consistent as I was in 2013.
“I've always had high expectations on myself. I think when you know how well you can play, of course you want to get there more and more frequently, and when that doesn't happen, as it hasn't this year, then I think that's quite natural that builds up a bit of frustration.
“I'm kind of working on that, trying to get that consistency back, but whether it's going to be good enough this week or not, I can't tell you. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The defending champion believes that winning his first major has made it easier to claim another but won’t fall into the trap of pushing too hard.
“I think once you win one, that takes a (burden) off your shoulder. Now it's more about putting myself in contention again and trying to win a second one.
“It's one of my favorite tracks,” he added. “I think you have to position yourself well off the tee and not take silly risks into the greens. I think if you kind of go up and down the centerline, given where the pin is, you're going to give yourself decent looks for birdie, but I'm not looking to be overly aggressive, either off the tee or into the greens this week.
“I might push a bit harder at some stage but not until I need to. My game plan is going to stay the same (as his last appearance at Birkdale in 2008) and we'll see where it takes us.”