Stenson not at his talkative best discussing Premier Golf League

Bernie McGuire

Henrik Stenson, Getty Images

It has been reported but then without any concrete foundation that Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is among those linked to a proposed breakaway Premier Golf League (PGL).

Stenson, 44 has been named along with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Paul Casey at the core of joining any move to leave the PGA Tour for the enormous prize purses being mooted by the PGL.

Talk of any breakaway tour had been much the story at the start of the season and more particularly during the week of the Saudi Invitational in late January/early February, due to Mickelson having accepted an invitation to tee-up in the event.

The Coronavirus pandemic and a golfing shutdown put paid to any PGL related conversation until last week.

Stenson is returning to competition at this week’s WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational  in his first event since the lifting on June 11th of the COVID-19 related lockdown.

It did seem strange Stenson would be asked to attend the TPC Southwind media centre for a press conference so late in the day at 4pm local time (10pm UK/Irish).

And when just two journalists, Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel, and myself got online to join the video conference call, I thought to myself here’s the chance to politely ask the always very chirpy Stenson what he knew.

  1. Henrik?  I’m going straight for the jugular. Your name’s been mentioned as one of the players that may be involved in the Premier Golf League. Can you comment on that, please?

HENRIK STENSON: I think we’ve all kind of seen — we’ve seen some of the things in the press and, yeah, I know a little bit what’s going on behind the scenes and I’m following it closely, like a lot of other people. Yeah, we’ll see what happens in the future really.

2. Can you say now whether you’ve been approached or not, or is that sort of under cover?

HENRIK STENSON: Well, we’ll —

3. You’ve been approached then.

HENRIK STENSON: All right. Thanks for adding that (smiling).

The last time I saw Stenson was late on the afternoon of Friday, March 13th when I bumped into him within the Whole Foods supermarket located as you drive into the TPC Sawgrass estate, shortly after the Players Championship had been cancelled.

I flippantly asked Henrik, with wife, Emma, looking on what he was going to do with himself over the ensuing weeks and not for a moment thinking the lockdown would result in a three-month suspension to the PGA Tour.

Let me again draw on my formal question on the eve of the Memphis event to Henrik.

4. Henrik, I think the last time I saw you and Emma was in a supermarket just down the road from TPC Sawgrass and you were promising me you were going to do some work around the house. Did you get any work done around the house?

HENRIK STENSON: Let me tell you, I virtually dismantled the playground in Orlando and stained the whole thing. I had a little bit of help, but I put my hours in on that one. The garage is looking pretty spotless. I got new shelves in the garage in Sweden. Oh, yeah, it’s been a proper handyman job here.

However, the Stenson’s soon returned home to their native Sweden before getting serious and working with coach Pete Cowen on his game in what this week will be the first PGA Tour event since The Players.

And in returning to Tour, I also asked Henrik what he thought of the decision by Lee Westwood and fellow Brit Eddie Pepperell not to travel to the U.S., for the FedEx St. Jude and next week’s PGA Championship.

“To be honest, I saw a little bit on Westwood’s end. I don’t know what Eddie put out there, so kind of hard to comment on that,” said Stenson

“I think — I mean, we’ve taken some decisions here to push categories forward both in Europe and in the States. It’s a challenging time. Everyone’s got different kinds of dilemmas or outlooks and challenges. I think each and one to their own to decide what they want to do and how they want to travel and lay out their schedule.

“I wouldn’t criticise anyone in any shape or form on that, given the circumstances. If you don’t feel comfortable and don’t want to travel, then that’s fine. If you want to play every week, that’s another opportunity to do that.

“I think we all just go about it the way we want to and try and get through this and look ahead for a brighter future in general and in golf with hopefully the most part of this pandemic behind us at some point.”

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