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Big expectations for Henrik Stenson

European number one Henrik Stenson is taking great care to live up to his own expectations, and not those of others.

The big-hitting Swede enhanced his burgeoning status by winning last month's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and has been tipped to shine at this year's Masters by six-times major champion Nick Faldo.

"There are always going to be expectations from all different directions," world number five Stenson told reporters at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on Tuesday as he prepared for this week's WGC-CA Championship.

"As players, we always put the highest pressure on ourselves to perform. I try and stick to my own things and I know where I want to be and how well I want to play. That's all I can focus on.

"If it's there to be, it's going to happen. Of course, if Nick says that, it's flattering that he thinks good of my game. He wouldn't have said that if he didn't think I could have a chance."

Former world number one Faldo, writing in this month's Golf World magazine, said of Stenson: "He's a great talent.

"He may not have a great grip and he uses a lot of arms but he's got gorilla strength and I was very impressed with his game from 60 yards in when I played with him," the Briton added.

"Henrik is a fast learner, he's winning regularly and he's solid with the putter. I think he could be the man (at the Masters)."

Stenson, who holed the winning putt for Europe at last year's Ryder Cup, is aiming for no worse than a top-10 finish in the April 5-8 Masters at Augusta National.

"I'd be pretty pleased with that," the 30-year-old from Gothenburg said. "If you're playing well enough to be up there in the top 10, you're probably playing pretty good to have a chance to do something better as well.

"I just try and put myself in good positions on Sundays at golf tournaments and I managed to win a few in the last year," added the six-times European Tour winner.

"That's the whole key. Just put yourself in the right position. You've got to keep trying to be in the mix."

Stenson, who beat title-holder Geoff Ogilvy of Australia 2&1 in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final at Dove Mountain in Arizona, senses his best chance of a major breakthrough will come at a U.S. Open or PGA Championship.

"When I grew up, I looked at Ryder Cups and I looked at the British Open," added the Swede, whose best major finish was a tie for 14th in last year's PGA Championship at Medinah.

"Those were the two main events outside of Augusta, and I always had winning the British Open as the one thing.

"But with the experience I've got now, I think a U.S. Open or U.S. PGA might be more suited for my type of game and the type of golf courses we play.

"I've said that probably 10 times, and I wouldn't give any of the other ones back either if I won them," he added with a broad smile.

Stenson is scheduled to tee off at 1120 local (1520 GMT) in Thursday's opening round at Doral along with American Bart Bryant and Rod Pampling of Australia.


March 21, 2007

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