SPRINGFIELD, United States: Sweden’s Henrik Stenson carried over the momentum from his British Open victory two weeks ago into the PGA Championship, firing a three-under-par 67 Thursday (Friday in Manila) to share fifth at Baltusrol.
Just 11 days after lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Troon by outdueling Phil Mickelson, the 40-year-old birdied three of the last seven holes to stand two back of US leader Jimmy Walker after round one.
“One week in between here might potentially be a good thing, but it could be a bad thing. It’s always hard to tell,” Stenson said.
“More time made it easier to recharge, but at the same time I feel I can carry that momentum I had at the Open Championship, and I guess the start shows that we’re not too far away when we teed it up again.”
At Troon, Stenson became just the second player to finish a major championship in 20-under-par, matching the record set by top-ranked Australian Jason Day at last year’s PGA Championship.
“Confidence level is pretty good. It could always be better, but I feel like I’m pretty clear on what I need to do with my game, my swing and everything,” Stenson said.
“The challenge this week was to be back in there mentally and focused and on one or two occasions, I think I slipped and I probably paid the price.”
Stenson cited a short par putt he missed at the ninth.
“But I think the most important thing is what you do afterwards, and I felt like I gave myself a little kick in the butt after missing that one,” Stenson said. “I was better committing on my lines than my strokes from there on.”
Stenson has made 30 birdies in his past five rounds. He has five rounds in a row in the 60s and 29 overall this year.
“I’m pleased with that start. I played a very solid round. I wasn’t in too much trouble at any time. Hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, and gave myself some good chances,” Stenson said.
“Maybe felt a slight lack of preparation on the putting green this week was showing up on a few occasions, but all in all, I think I putted OK and I made the most of the ones I needed to make.
“I wasn’t quite as comfortable on the greens (as at Troon), but all in all, I think I handled that pretty well.”
Stenson played alongside the year’s other major winners, Masters champion Danny Willett of England and US Open winner Dustin Johnson of the United States.
“All of us are pretty happy with what’s happened this year. We all had our major breakthroughs,” Stenson said.
“It was more about enjoying it, but at the same time, we’ve got to move on. We’re in the middle of a busy season. I want to give myself a chance to try to make it the best season. I still want to focus and get back into it.”