The adorable young man at left is Henrik Stenson shortly after the turn of the Century.
It was 2001. He joined the European Tour that year, and almost immediately won the Benson and Hedges International Open. Then... well, he just persevered for a while, patiently working through swing problems and resulting lapses in confidence. Flash forward half a decade and he's the top ranked European golfer in the world and winning all over the place. I first wrote about Henrik back in early January when he hit a 721 yard drive off the wing of a Boeing 767 aircraft, to win the Swing on the Wing Challenge. That was a long drive event that led up to the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. The guy's a long hitter, that's for sure. Then just a couple of weeks ago he put the kibosh on the much anticipated Tiger / Ernie showdown by winning the Dubai Desert Classic. And now there's his hard fought victory over defending champion Goeff Ogilvy at the Accenture Match Play Championship. I have a feeling this might be the event that finally puts him on the radar screens of more US golf fans and even US sports fans outside of the golf world. Henrik himself would probably not venture such an opinion. You see, he's humble and soft spoken and reserved, as Swedes often are. In fact, unlike other top golfers, when asked the inevitable Tiger challenge question, Henrik didn't express aspirations to replace Tiger as No.1 only that he "hoped he could beat him a couple of times".
Yep, I think this is going to be a great year for Henrik Stenson. He appears to have reached that magical place where everything's coming together. Oh, and he's got a couple of Uber-Golf Girls in his corner as well, and that never hurt anyone.