April 04, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Henrik Stenson enters Augusta National coming off a second-place finish at the Shell Houston Open. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Henrik Stenson played with Jordan Spieth the first two rounds of last year’s Masters.
He learned something from the experience.
“My strategy is to play a little bit more aggressive this year and shoot a bit more for the pins, because I feel like I tried to play a little too defensive in the past,” Stenson said. “There's no point going out there with a strategy to try and make 14 birdies and no bogeys. That's still going to come up short.”
Spieth made 15 birdies those first two days -- and just one bogey -- en route to 28 in all. He led by five strokes going into the weekend and won by four, finishing at 18-under 270.
Stenson, meanwhile, broke par just once the first three days until going all out on the last, with four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys on his way to a 68, his lowest career score at Augusta National. He finished in a tie for 19th.
“That kind of put me in that direction,” he said. “But you've still got to play well, otherwise you're not going to get the score that you want to get anyway.”
For whatever the reason, the Masters has been the most perplexing of majors for Stenson. In 10 appearances, his best finish was a tie for 14th in 2014.
It’s even more head-scratching when you consider the 39-year-old’s recent form. In the last two years, he has 10 runner-up finishes around the world.
Glass half full, or half empty?
“I think I'm quite hard on myself,” Stenson said. “If I feel like I've made mistakes where I didn't want to make mistakes, hit bad shots at the wrong time, I'm going to be pretty hard on myself. But if others do great stuff, it's kind of hard to. I can't control what they do. I can only look at what I do.
“I don't feel like I've played anywhere near my full potential a lot of these times when I've put myself in contention. And then it's a bit unjust to be super hard on yourself, if it doesn't come off on a Sunday when you don't really feel like you're playing your best anyway. You hope it's going to do, and that's why I keep on working on my game to get it to the stage where I know it's going to happen on a Sunday.”