Title defense for Stenson begins with opening-day 69
Defending champion Henrik Stenson sits within striking distance of the leaders heading into the second round of The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
The 41-year-old Swede opened his defense with a one under par 69 and he believes it gives him a platform to challenge the leaders over the next three days.
It is also seven shots better than his first round score ten years ago on his championship debut at the Southport links.
I will definitely take that start," he said. "I'm pleased with the first day. I think I could have been one or two shots better and finished two-to three under. That would have been a pretty good reflection of how I played, but sometimes you're one or two shots short at that end, while on others you might feel you should have shot level but come away two-under. That's just the nature of the game."
Stenson went out in one under par 33 and then dropped a shot on the 15th before getting it back one hole later.
“It was certainly tough early this morning when we woke up but (by the time we went out) we got a fairly good ride. It's windy, it's not easy out there, but it's still nice. You can certainly score out there."
Stenson went on to finish tied-third on his first Open outing at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and he believes it is one of the best tests of golf on The Open rota.
“I think it's very well bunkered off the tee,” he said. “Strategically, it’s a good golf course. You're not going to get any freebies and in a crosswind you've got to hit good shots and move your ball flight nicely. Otherwise, sooner or later, you're going to end up one or two of those bunkers, and it's going to cost you.
“For me it's a good golf course, because I like to play that way, hit my targets and try to get as much out of it without taking too much risk.
“There’s also a great kind of stadium feel to a lot of the holes here. You've got the dunes and the hills to stand on to get a good look at the action. It’s not every course that gives the spectators that opportunity. I think this is a great venue, it's a strong golf course and it's good for the fans, as well.”