Henrik Stenson slowed by flu, not sidelined, in 2015 Masters
Once Henrik Stenson started feeling better, it was too late.
Stenson entered the 2015 Masters Tournament still weak from a bout with the flu that had forced him to withdraw at the previous week’s Houston Open.
The flu couldn’t have come at a worse time for Stenson, who was ranked No. 3 in the world leading into the Masters and was on a roll. In a three-week stretch starting in early March, he tied for fourth at the Cadillac Championship, finished fourth at the Valspar Championship and was the runner-up in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“It kind of killed the momentum I had,” he said. “I was on probably as good a run I’ve had leading into the Masters with those three tournaments.”
Stenson took a week off after the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He was planning on going to Augusta National Golf Club for a practice round before heading to the Houston Open when the flu bug bit.
“I woke up on that Monday morning and I said, ‘There is no way I can go,’” he said. “So I stayed at home or otherwise I would have been in bed the whole week of Houston. I didn’t move for about eight days and just barely made it to Augusta.”
After getting to Augusta, Stenson said he “was not in good shape and was exhausted” after his warmup before Thursday’s first round.
“My caddie said on the 13th green my eyes started going sideways,” Stenson said. “He was almost like leading me to the 14th. I managed to make some birdies coming in from there, which was incredible.”
Stenson shot 1-over-par 73 that day and followed with another 73 to make the cut on the number. On the weekend, he had 70-68 and tied for 19th place.
“I’m pretty sure I would have been better if I hadn’t had the flu the week before,” Stenson said of his finish, which was his third consecutive top-20 finish in the Masters.
Stenson’s worst record in a major is at Augusta National, where his best finish in 10 starts is a tie for 14th in 2014. It’s the only major in which he doesn’t have a top-10 finish.
“I haven’t been in contention other than early in the week once or twice,” he said. “I need to put myself in a better position to make more birdies.”
He has only two rounds in the 60s out of 34 rounds, including his 68 in last year’s final round.
“I know I need to play more aggressive,” he said. “I played the most aggressive I’ve done over the years in the final round last year and that paid off. Hopefully that’s a sign and we can start this year’s Masters with a good score and take it from there.”
Aside from a few poor-putting weeks in previous Masters, Stenson is unsure why he doesn’t have a better record around Augusta National.
“It’s a golf course that should suit my game pretty good. It’s a different week because there’s no room for in‑between shots,” he said. “Something that would have been a decent 20‑foot, or 25‑foot birdie putt on a regular week tends to take a little reach and end up far away from the pin. You either hit a good shot or a great shot and get a really good chance for birdie. Otherwise, you kind of end up with a poor shot anyway.
“It’s not a week where you can keep on plowing away and give yourself 20‑footers for birdie.”