(ATR) Nothing would make Henrik Stenson happier than claiming his first Major title this weekend at Royal Troon, but an Olympic gold medal doesn’t fall too far behind.
Stenson reeled off a string of birdies on a wet and soggy day at the 145th Open Championship to move himself into contention after two rounds. The 40-year-old Swedish golfer made five birdies to card an impressive second round 65 – vaulting himself one shot behind tournament leader Phil Mickelson entering the weekend.
Stenson appears focused to become the first Swede to win one of golf’s four Major tournaments, however a post-round question about competing in Rio stirred his excitement for the Olympic tournament.
"I think after a long and pretty successful career, it would be pretty cool to have an Olympic medal hanging next to some of the nice trophies I have at home," Stenson said. "I’m going to try my hardest."
"I’ve been excited to go and get a feel of the Olympic atmosphere for a longtime," the veteran Swede added. "Of course I want to try and play well and do myself and my country proud by hopefully bringing home a medal."
Stenson noted that he will bring his wife and family to Brazil and plans to walk alongside his fellow Swedish athletes in the opening ceremony.
Runner-up to Mickelson at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, Stenson seems to be honing his game at just the right time with the PGA Championship following this weekend’s Open in two weeks and the Olympics in Rio just around the corner. He admitted that he had been struggling, failing to find his way into contention at each of the last six Major tournaments since the Masters in April 2015.
With his quick wit and dry sense of humor, Stenson is one of the most likeable guys on tour – his image and character exactly what Olympic golf needs.
Asked if he has any concerns about the Zika virus, Stenson answered no, while adding: "For once, it’s a competitive advantage to be 40 and not looking to have any more kids."
One wily golf journalist asked Stenson if he had to choose between winning two of the following three - The Open Championship, Ryder Cup and Olympic gold medal - which would it be?
"If I say I’ll take the Olympic gold and the Open Championship, I’m going to have 11 guys kicking me when I walk outside," Stenson said, eliciting laughter from the room of journalists.
"So, I’ll take the Ryder Cup for my teammates and then I’ll take the Open Championship as of now – I’ve got a better chance here since we haven’t started in Rio yet," he said.
Stenson said bringing home a gold medal from Rio would be special for both he and his country.
"It would be big outside the golfing community as well – to the broader sports crowd and to the whole country," he said.
"Of course that would be massive, but let’s focus on one thing at a time."
For the moment, Stenson’s sights are clearly set on taking Sweden to the top of the golfing world this weekend in Scotland.
Click here for photos from the first two days of action from the Open championship.
Around the Rings onsite coverage of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon is sponsored exclusively by EventScotland, working to make Scotland the Perfect Stage for Events.
Written by Brian Pinelli at Royal Troon in Ayrshire
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