Henrik Stenson targets Open win

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Henrik Stenson is feeling optimistic about his chances at the 143rd Open championship this week after skipping last week's links test in Scotland to rest and refresh following a tough opening half to his 2014 season.

The current world number two announced himself as a force in the professional game at the back end of last year when he finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson at Muirfield, tied third at the US PGA before going on to win an unprecedented FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai double - his two biggest wins to date.

Excellent form 

That sort of form has seen him start as one of the favourites at each major this year, and this week is no different for the 38 year old as he once again attempts to become the first Swede to win a coveted major championship.

Last time out, he finished fourth to Martin Kaymer at the US Open at Pinehurst No.2.

Speaking to media ahead of Thursday's opening round, Stenson revealed why he chose to miss last week's Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen despite his runner-up finish - to Mickelson again - at the same event last year.


"I just felt like I needed a bit of extra rest. I just couldn't keep going. And coming into a major championship tired is always a recipe for disaster.

"You've got to have a fresh head to take on the challenges and hard work you need to put in that week," he said.

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Stenson was the hottest golfer on the planet at the culmination of the 2013 season, sealing victories at Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship before repeating the trick in the United Arab Emirates with a win at the DP World Tour Championship, helping him rise to second in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Ryder Cup

Despite a winless start to 2014, the 2009 Players champion has remained remarkably consistent throughout, recording top-10 finishes in his last five European Tour starts. 

With a place on Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team one less thing to worry about, the Swede is entirely focused on adding a major to resumè - sooner rather than later. 

"My boyhood dreams were to play in the Ryder Cup and to win the Open Championship. That dream hasn't gone away. It's the last thing on my CV to make it complete, more or less," he added.

"You've got to have drive if you want to make things happen. I feel like I still have that."

Tiger Woods

If he is to succeed this week at Royal Liverpool golf course, he will have to overcome the challenge of being paired with Tiger Woods for the opening two rounds. The return of the 14-time major winner will undoubtedly increase the amount following a group that also contains double-major champion Angel Cabrera.

However, the experienced Stenson has played with Woods before and does not expect the return of golf's star man to affect his hopes of taking home the Claret Jug on Sunday. 

"He's having sleepless nights, I'm sure," he joked when asked about how Tiger would feel about being paired with him for the season's third major. 

"I've had some good success playing against Tiger, and managed to beat him a few times. He's just one of the guys I'll have to finish ahead of if I want to do well here - but it's a good start if you know you can beat him. 

"Besides, the draw is tough on those in the group ahead of Tiger. Whenever he's finished on a hole, the crowd is trying to get into a good position to watch the next hole."

With Woods playing his first major of 2014, many have talked up his chances of contending at the course he won at in 2006 using just one driver all week. 

That could pave the way for Stenson to play the part of the Hidden Dragon at Hoylake these next four days. 

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