Sounds like a perfect scenario for Henrik Stenson. He often employs a 3-wood off the tee and currently leads the PGA Tour in driving accuracy and ranks 13th in strokes gained off the tee.
And it would be perfect for the 2016 champion, except for one major problem: He’s hurting.
Following a withdrawal from last week’s Scottish Open due to an elbow injury, Stenson still isn’t feeling great.
“I’m not 100%,” Stenson told The Guardian on Tuesday. “I have a bit of inflammation in the arm; it has been a bit weak. I played 18 in Sweden on Saturday and didn’t feel that great when I woke up on Sunday to travel over here. We will try and prepare, try not to overdo it in the lead-up and hopefully we will be good to go by Thursday.”
Stenson is currently tied for the 10th-best odds on the board at +2200, though his comments could move that number a bit.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time a world-class player overcame an injury to win a major championship.
Tiger Woods memorably claimed the 2008 U.S. Open while dealing with a torn ACL and leg fractures, but the better comparison in this instance might have occurred a few weeks later. Padraig Harrington was uncertain about making his Open Championship title defense in 2008 after injuring his wrist, then won despite the injury.
“I probably wouldn’t have traveled, but the Open is obviously very special to me,” Stenson continued. “At the same time, if things go south, I’m not going to tee it up without seeing myself playing the full tournament. There is no point doing that, but as of now, we will prepare like I’m going to play and I’m hopeful of playing. We will just have to do the best we can with what we have got.”
Stenson is scheduled to begin his opening round at 12:31 p.m. local time (7:31 ET) on Thursday, alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Jimmy Walker.