Henrik Stenson arrived at Baltusrol Golf Club coming off his first career major win just weeks ago at the British Open at Royal Troon, which is now his favorite golf course in the world. The 40-year-old pro from Sweden set a major championship record there with a 20 under par score of 264.
In his first round at the PGA Championship Thursday, he seemed to be continuing that momentum, scoring his fifth straight round in the 60s. Stenson shot a 67 on Thursday to finish 3 under par.
Stenson birdied the par 5 18th hole at Baltusrol, which put him just two shots back of first-round leader Jimmy Walker and tied for fifth. When asked how it felt to be near the top of the leaderboard after the first day of the tournament, Stenson said, “I did pretty well here today. I played a solid round of golf. And, again, I am hoping to be there on Sunday with a chance.”
Stenson is known for his good humor off the course and as one of the biggest practical jokers on the tour. He relayed a funny story about offering a joke store pen to his friends that provided a slight electric shock. And he may have played a bit of a joke on an SI Kids Kid Reporter during an interview, getting him with the old tap-on-the-shoulder-when-you’re-not-looking trick.
All kidding aside, Stenson is well-positioned for the second round on Friday. He is grouped for the first two rounds with this year's other major champions, Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson. Willett, who won the Masters, shot 1 over on Thursday for a score of 71. Johnson, the U.S. Open champion, shot a 7 over par score of 77 that included just one birdie and two double-bogeys.
Stenson is hoping to continue his birdie streak. He has made 14 birdies in his last 36 holes of major championship golf. With rain in the forecast, many are predicting the course may play easier Friday. Another solid round could have Stenson in striking distance for a second major win. No joke!
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