16 January 2019: One of the coolest golfers on the international circuit, beneath the icy veneer of Henrik Stenson, is a warm-hearted, good-humoured human being. Read all about him in the very own words of the stylish Swedish golfer, written on the European Tour website.
I’ve had a pretty successful career so far and I’m not done yet. I still love to practice and to compete and those are the two main ingredients to stay at a high level and keep winning and playing well. I wouldn’t say everything is the same as it’s always been, but my drive in this sport is still there. I think you’ll see quite quickly the day when I and other players don’t have that, and when you can’t compete with the next wave of young players coming out. I feel like I’m in a good spot at the moment though.
I still love golf, even though as soon as you become professional it becomes your work. That means you have a different take on it at times, with all of the media and other things you have to do away from the course. But when I’m out there hitting balls on the range and trying to get better, I still love it.
If you look at the bigger picture of what I’ve managed to achieve and how many players have tried to make a living out of the game and compete at the highest level, even before the last five great years, I’d achieved more than I could ever dream of. The back half of my career has been so good in particular. It has given me more than I could ever wish for and it’s not just about the wins. To have the added privilege of travelling the world and seeing all of these amazing places in such a short amount of time – after 20 years out on Tour, you feel like you know the world pretty well. It’s been a very cool journey and I’m privileged to have been on it.
I might have the appearance of being cool, but I certainly feel the nerves when I’m in contention, like every other player out there. That’s really what motivates us and gives us that extra bit of adrenalin. When things are getting tight towards the end that’s what gets us going and it’s what we strive for. I think you either like that or you don’t, and if you do then you want to get into that position as much as possible. Of course, it can be intimidating if you feel your game isn’t in order, but whenever you feel like you’re in a good spot, you want to be there to have a chance to win. I hope I can continue to do that for as long as I play.
I’ve always been the same person, but I think the impression of me when I’m playing golf is very serious and focused, which isn’t really who I am. I’m more relaxed, I joke and smile a bit more when we’re off the golf course. I’ve heard quite a bit that people who meet me away from the golf course were expecting something else. That on-course appearance is just how I am when I’m playing golf and I need to be there to be in that moment. It’s hard to form an opinion of someone you haven’t met and from what you see on television. I guess that goes for a lot of people.
Looking back at last season, my highlight has to be The 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. I was very happy with my performance. I had that responsibility given to me by Thomas Bjørn with the wildcard pick. I’d played four Ryder Cups previously and qualified on my own merit quite comfortably, but this time around, due to injuries and not playing as well as I’d like, I didn’t make it on points. I was obviously delighted to get that phone call and even more delighted to pull that performance off.
There is a lot of pressure in The Ryder Cup and when you’re there as a wildcard there’s a bit extra; you’ll always be questioned more if you don’t perform. To go out with Justin (Rose), play my part and get those wins and make important putts on Saturday afternoon was great. It’s easily forgotten that I was the one who missed the greens and left Justin needing to chip from difficult positions – meaning I then made the putts to win the match, so thanks for that Justin. Then with the singles matches, you have to tackle them like it’s going to come down to your match and I was so determined. I went and played as well as I’d played throughout last year at any point and didn’t give Bubba Watson a chance. To be picked and then contribute three points left me feeling delighted. At the end of the day, it’s good fun to have your own strong performance, but the most important thing is that the team get to the 14.5 points. It was a double victory in that sense.
Despite all the good golf one of my highlights of that Ryder Cup was to have my kids on site in Paris. My oldest daughter is 11 and my boy is eight, so for them to be part of something so special and for us to do well, it’ll be something they’ll remember forever. I don’t know if my four-year-old will remember that much, but she got pretty good at saying ‘Allez Les Bleus’ in the end! It was just a great week. We stayed on for a few days afterwards and celebrated my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday and we did Paris with the kids on Monday after, so the victory celebrations at the winner’s party were cut short on my end, unfortunately. I knew we were heading into Paris on Monday morning, so I couldn’t be up until four in the morning with the others!
Before 2013 I didn’t get too much recognition in Sweden, other than on the golf course really, but that’s changed now. My good results in 2013 and the awards from back home certainly got me more recognised in the wider sporting community. Then after winning The Open and the silver medal at the Olympic Games, I guess even more recognition came, and not just from people that follow the sport. Other people start to recognise you in the street, but I wouldn’t say I get stopped a lot in Sweden where it’s a bit more reserved. In America, if anybody recognises an athlete or an actor, they want to make contact and talk, but back home it’s not really like that. Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my career, and being able to win for my country and to promote golf and inspire the next generation makes it all better. It’s been a fun journey.
Looking to the future, whenever it is I finish playing golf, I don’t think I’ll be sitting at home without anything to do. My golf course design business started a few years ago and we’ve got some projects going on. Then I have the eyewear, plus the foundation together with my wife. There’s also a big junior tournament with Fanny Sunesson in Sweden, because I want to try to help Swedish golf in the future. We’re also looking at charity work in America.
I think there will be plenty to do, but for the foreseeable future, I’m still focusing on playing golf and trying to do as much as possible on the course. Being part of the kids’ activities and day-to-day lives is something I enjoy as well. When I was injured for four or five weeks in the autumn it was nice to be part of their lives and be at football practice and do homework, even though fifth-grade maths is impossible for me to understand these days! But I’m not worried as I know there’ll be plenty of other things to enjoy once I wind down from golf.