Oh, how the face of golf has changed. Of the 51 honorary life members of the European Tour, five are Scots, namely Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie, Bernard Gallacher and John Panton.
Henrik Stenson is now the first Swede to receive the honour, yet the Open champion heads a four-strong contingent from that country in the DP World Tour Championship starting today, when there’s not a single Scot in the field for the European Tour’s season-ending event at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“It’s pretty sweet – a special thing,” said Stenson of his new accolade that was essentially earned through him winning that epic duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon back in July to become the first Scandinavian male major champion. His goal this week is to repeat a 2013 victory in the Race to Dubai. Danny Willett, Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy are also in the reckoning heading into the final circuit, but Stenson is in the driving seat, leading second-placed Willett by 299,675 points.
“I’m in a great position - I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” he added. “It was pretty sweet to be Europe’s No 1 in 2013 and I don’t think it would be any less sweet being that again this season, especially after winning The Open.”
Like McIlroy, Stenson has triumphed twice in this event – in 2013 and 2014. Having finished joint last, 24 shots behind McIlroy, 12 months ago, though, he’s certainly not taking anything for granted. “It was a new experience having to stand on my head to see myself on top of the leaderboard,” he quipped, “and it’s not one that I want to repeat this year.”