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Henrik Stenson cutting back to focus on majors

Henrik Stenson, frustrated after his 2007 campaign faded after a storming start, has cut back his playing schedule for this year.

The Swede, who won the biggest title of his career at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last February, believes competing in fewer tournaments will help his preparation for the four majors.

"More than anything, my disappointment was in the big events last year," Stenson said during a teleconference call on Thursday. "I missed three cuts and finished 17th at Augusta.

"My performance in the majors weren't anywhere near where I had hoped and that's why I'm trying to cut down a little bit and make sure I get those weeks of practice and rest in to try and be more prepared when I play.

"When you lose your form a little bit and you don't have that time to really work on your game because you're travelling and playing all the time, it puts you in a little bit of a catch-up situation.

"Last year, I was trying to work on my game early on in the week in some of the big events and that's just not the way to do it," added the Swede, who is competing in the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii this week.

Gothenburg-born Stenson, who is now based in Dubai, has decided to relinquish his PGA Tour membership and shift his focus back to the European Tour.

"I'm not going to play as much in America in '08," said the world number 16. "I played 30 events (worldwide) in 2007 and I played 31 weeks in 2006. I'm trying to cut down a little bit on my schedule so I can get the number down to about 25 events."

The big-hitting Swede is scheduled to play in only four events on the PGA Tour before the first major of the season, the April 10-13 Masters at Augusta National.

Having tied for 17th there last year, Stenson believes Augusta probably suits him best of the four major venues lined up for 2008.

"I could see myself doing well at Augusta this upcoming year, if I play well enough," he said. "But it's not just if the course suits you or not. You have to have the game for the week."

Stenson has fond memories of his Accenture Match Play Championship success last year when he beat Australian Geoff Ogilvy of Australia 2&1 in the final.

The Swede became the second European to win the prestigious title, emulating Briton Darren Clarke's triumph in 2000, after holding off Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to claim the Dubai Desert Classic in his previous start.

"Winning the Accenture Match Play was the biggest tournament I have won so far and I hope I can have a few more down the road," Stenson said.

"I have great memories from that week and I am really looking forward to coming back in February."

Stenson is scheduled to defend his WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship crown from Feb. 20-24 at Dove Mountain's Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Arizona.


January 8, 2008

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