Thursday, 20 March 2014 | MYT 5:46 PM
Masters on minds of many at Arnie’s Bay Hill bash
Henrik Stenson of Sweden hits a shot during the pro-am round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament at Bay Hill on Wednesday. — AFP
ORLANDO: Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the reigning US PGA playoff and European Tour Race to Dubai champion, enters this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill with the US Masters in his thoughts.
The year’s first Major showdown, set for April 10-13 at Augusta National, is the only Major at which Stenson has yet to crack the top 10.
“I think it’s there all the time in the back of your mind,” Stenson said. “I would have liked to be maybe a little bit more up and running, but on the other hand it can be a good thing as well.
“All you need is a good week. All you need to get going. It could happen pretty quickly. And we’ve got still some time. I don’t think the motivation should be a problem when we get there.”
Stenson, who will play alongside England’s Ian Poulter and American Keegan Bradley for the first two rounds, was second at last year’s British Open and third at the 2013 PGA Championship and will scout out Augusta National before playing next week at Houston.
While he has not cracked the top 15 in three US events this season, Stenson does feel his mental game is coming around after coping with last year’s success.
“It’s harder to keep your mind where you want it to be if you’re a little tired and a little slow. Hopefully we can turn that around,” Stenson said.
For players who are not yet qualified for the US Masters, the next two weeks represent a chance to make the field by winning or jumping up in the rankings.
“It’s on the front of my mind, but trying to make it doesn’t help you play better,” said Charles Howell, an Augusta native.
“I have been in this situation so many times that if I don’t make it it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a tournament no one wants to miss.” — AFP