Stenson feeling good ahead of his Nordea homecoming
WORLD number four Henrik Stenson believes he is finally fit and healthy as he targets a first European Tour title on home soil to kickstart a strong second half of the season.
Stenson has struggled with numerous illnesses this year but will be hoping to reproduce his late-season form of 2013, when he was second in the Open and third in the US PGA Championship on his way to becoming the first player to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same year.
"I got sick which set me back for about six weeks," Ryder Cup star Stenson told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Nordea Masters.
"First, I had proper man-flu, which was horrible, then I got a vomiting bug that the kids had when we were at Augusta, so I came off one bad thing and straight into another one, then I had back-to-back colds. At that point, I felt like if anyone sneezed within 500 yards of me I was getting it because my immune system was so low and broken down.
"But I've recovered and had a few good weeks in the gym, so I'm feeling healthy, but I'm playing catch-up which is hard in the middle of the season. I'll do the best I can and hopefully have a good second half of the year."
Stenson was fifth at PGA Sweden National last year, narrowly missing out on the play-off between eventual winner Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup team-mates Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher.
"It's great to come back," the 39-year-old added.
"I really received a warm welcome last year, there was so much support for me and all the other Swedish players. I didn't have my best finish and ran out of steam a bit on the Sunday. I still had a chance on the 18th and needed to make a birdie to be in the play-off, but that didn't happen. Hopefully I can be there until the end this year.
"I grew up watching the event outside the ropes, then in 1996 I played my first one as an amateur and I've been part of it for most years since. It's important to come back and be an inspiration for the next generation hopefully and to support a Swedish event."
Stenson will partner Jaidee and Irish Open winner Soren Kjeldsen in the first two rounds, with former Thai paratrooper Jaidee keen to build on his recent share of second place in the BMW PGA Championship by successfully defending the title.
"It's great to be back and hopefully I can have another good week here," Jaidee said. "I'm very happy with the way I've been playing this season and I've come close a couple of times, so I just need to get over the line. Hopefully the good feelings from last year will help that. I'm just going to try to enjoy it.
"I'm very glad to be back as defending champion and already it has brought back a lot of good memories. Last year the course was fantastic and I'm sure it will be the same again this week.
"I have a lot of friends here in Sweden. My sponsors are here - they are Swedish and own Black Mountain Golf Club in Thailand - so it's nice to see them and catch up with many people I know."