Stenson hoping to excel despite starting out in Woods’s shadow

Sweden's Henrik Stenson at Royal Liverpool on Wednesday.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson at Royal Liverpool on Wednesday.
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The eyes of the golfing world, not to mention a dedicated TV channel, will be on Tiger Woods in the opening round of the 143rd Open Championship today.

But playing partner Henrik Stenson will be focused solely on claiming a first major title to put the finishing touches to his impressive CV.

Stenson and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera have been paired with Woods for the opening two rounds at Hoylake and Stenson is rated to have a better chance than Woods of lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday.

As low as 5-1 before his victory at Royal Liverpool in 2006, Woods could be backed at 20-1 ahead of his first major of 2014 after missing the Masters and US Open following back surgery.

World No 2 Stenson – who can overtake Adam Scott at the top of the rankings this week – is rated a 16-1 third favourite behind Scott and England’s Justin Rose, winner of his last two events.

“The Open Championship is a highlight of any season and for any player I think, especially European born ones,” said Stenson, who finished second to Phil Mickelson at Muirfield last year and third in both 2010 and 2008.

“It would mean the world to me to win this championship and if it doesn’t happen this year, I’ll come back and try next year.

“I’m after a major championship at some point and I’m not going to be greedy, I’ll take any one of them. But of course it would be the icing on the cake to do it in Europe.”

Stenson’s runner-up finish last year was part of an amazing second half of the season, which saw him become the first man to win the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and European Tour’s Race to Dubai in the same season.

“I grew up watching this championship. It was a boyhood dream to play in the Ryder Cup and win the Open,” added Stenson, who won the unofficial ‘fifth major’, the Players Championship, in 2009.