Henrik Stenson 'motivated' to get back to winning ways and make Ryder Cup hurrah

Henrik Stenson reckons his game is “trending in the right direction” as he bids to keep alive his hopes of achieving the one thing missing from his CV - a Ryder Cup victory on US soil.

Henrik Stenson lines up his putt during last week's Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Picture: Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The 2016 Open champion has slipped to 142nd in the world rankings, having missed the cut in seven out of 11 events this year on the back of a similarly unproductive 2020 campaign.

“I’m certainly not happy with the way I’ve played these last couple of years,” admitted Stenson, speaking ahead of the Porsche European Open in Hamburg, where it’s a Saturday start in an event that has been reduced to 54 holes due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

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“I’ve had a lot of great success over my career, but the frustration of not playing the way I know I can and want to, that’s enough motivation for me to be out there and spending the time to get back in good shape.

“In 2019, the only time I was really in contention I was up there with a world-class field at Tiger’s event (the Hero Challenge in the Bahamas) and managed to win it. I certainly feel like I’ve got what it takes to win out on Tour still.”

The 45-year-old finished inside the top 40 in the Masters in April before also making it to the weekend in the season’s second major, last month’s US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

“It’s trending in the right direction I think,” he said of his game. “It’s a lot of hard work and I haven’t been really getting the results as of yet. It’s been a long journey trying to get my game in shape, we’re still not there, but it’s a work in progress. We’re putting the hours in and we’re hopeful it’s going to start paying off.”

Stenson has played in five Ryder Cups, including the 2018 win at Le Golf National in Paris, but the 11-time European Tour winner is currently well outside the nine qualifying spots for Padraig Harrington’s team at Whistling Straits in September.

“I’d love to play on another (Ryder Cup) team,” he declared. “I’ve got a nice collection and been on the winning team three times – all of them in Europe.

“I feel like I’ve got one thing to set straight on my Ryder Cup career and that would be to be on a winning team in America.

“I know I need to show a lot and pick up the pace in the next couple of months to have a chance to be on that team. Still not something we’ve given up on, there’s a lot of work to do. It’s on the back of my mind to perform to be in the mix.”

Stephen Gallacher, David Law, Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson, David Drysdale, Calum Hill and Connor Syme are the Scots in the field at Green Eagle Golf Courses in Hamburg, where a tough test is in store.

“There aren’t any secrets that it’s a long golf course,” said Stenson of a 7,603-yard test that includes a par-5 measuring 705 yards. “The rough is pretty thick and quite a few of the green complexes are quite undulated. You have to be on your game this week, no question.”

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