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Stenson pessimistic about retaining British Open title

From FOX Sports - July 16, 2017

IRVINE, Scotland (AP)Henrik Stenson is pessimistic about his chances of successfully defending the British Open title at Royal Birkdale next week.

The Swedish golfer shot his best round of the week at the Scottish Open on Sundaya 4-under 68 for a score of 4 under overallbut it still wasnt enough to raise his hopes of lifting the claret jug again.

I know Im not really where I want to be in my game and maybe nothing else, either, Stenson said, but Ill try to enjoy.

Stenson hasnt won a title since shooting a final-round 63 at Royal Troon to win his first major.

He said his ball-striking hasnt been good for the last 18 months, apart from during a two-month stretch in the summer of 2016 when he won the BMW International Open in Germany followed by the Open Championship three weeks later.

The long game hasnt been in good shape for a long time and you cant really work when youre trying to perform, Stenson said. Its always that battle and I dont feel I have enough game to play the way I want to, and as soon as you go into practice mode you are losing the possibility to play your best. Its a tricky one.

Stenson said he would be heading to Birkdale, in the northwest of England, on Sunday evening.

You never know, it might be the only time were defending champion at the Open Championship so I might as well enjoy it, Stenson said.

I think thats going to be the most important thing coming into an event like that, notfeeling that youre playing anywhere near 100 percent, he added. You cant really put that pressure (on yourself) that youre going to be up there and contend.Maybe we can turn things around a little bit but Im looking forward to the week regardless.

Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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