PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Henrik Stenson seems to be feeling a little better.
Stenson withdrew from last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship after just 11 holes, unsuccessfully waging battle against a stomach bug. He told reporters that he still wasn’t quite feeling 100 percent entering the Valspar Championship, but he showed no signs of struggle during the opening round at Innisbrook.
Stenson carded seven birdies without dropping a shot on the Copperhead Course, shooting a 64 that left him two shots behind leader Jim Herman. It continues a run of good play that Stenson enjoyed prior to his early exit in Mexico.
“Hit a lot of good iron shots into the greens every now and again, and took advantage of the par 5s,” Stenson said. “It was pretty tidy, most happy with the putting for sure. Long game, not always as good as I’d like it, but all in all a solid day.”
Stenson is making his third straight start at this event, and it continues to be a course where he thrives. After a T-4 finish in his 2015 debut, the Swede tied for 11th last year.
Stenson dropped one spot to No. 6 in the latest world ranking, but he has no problem if recent discussion and debate has focused on the handful of players ahead of him – three of whom have won PGA Tour events in the last month.
“It’s not something I really focus about,” he said. “If they don’t want to mention the old guy, you know, it’s fine by me. I try and do my thing and play as well as I can and get prepared for the big events.”
As for the health concerns that knocked him out of Mexico, Stenson explained that it’s still a work in progress.
“When your stomach goes a bit, it always takes time to get it back,” he said. “Getting the probiotics down and getting a little bit of rest. We’re pretty much back to normal now.”