Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson have a unique, shared history in golf.

The two go way back to their amateur days, but are most known for their dominant partnership in the Ryder Cup, where they boast an impressive 6-2 record. Rose won the gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games, beating Stenson, the silver medalist. Both players have won 20-plus professional events worldwide and each has earned a FedEx Cup title, Stenson in 2013 and Rose in 2018.

But that shared history and past success has yet to make its way to TPC Louisiana and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. In two previous appearances together, the pairing missed the cut in 2017 and finished T-19 in 2018, poor performances by their lofty standards.

“Teamed up the first two years and we didn’t have much success, so we obviously are hoping and looking to turn that around this time,” said Stenson in the team’s pre-tournament press conference. “It’s like a bit of a fresh air to see something slightly different compared to the regular 72-hole tournaments that we play most of the time. So really fun week and looking forward to teaming up with Justin and turning that fabulous record that we have here around this week.”

“I actually feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us because reading between the lines, Henrik phoned me up and said, ‘Hello, partner, should we give it one more try?’” joked Rose, a Zurich ambassador who won the event in 2015 before it became a team event in 2017.

If anything, the two less-than-stellar performances at the Zurich are somewhat of a benefit for Rose and Stenson.

“I think that is always that temptation to say ‘sorry’ or that temptation to try to be too perfect or that temptation, yeah, it’s not wanting to let your partner down, but we have let each other down multiple times already, so I think we’re over that hurdle,” explained Rose.

“There’s certainly that element that you don’t want to let your partner down, but you do that by trying to do your best and trying to play as freely as you can,” added Stenson. “And, yeah, we are both going to miss and no one’s doing that intentionally, so it’s just to move on and get on with it, and I think a key part is that we know each other so well for many years, both playing together in the Ryder Cups but also playing amateur golf, and kind of, yeah, going way back, as they say.”

“So we know each other and trust each other and I think that’s been obviously key to our success as well in the Ryder Cups and having that comfort. And we also play a very similar game, I would say, when we play our finest and that makes it kind of easy out of a strategic and tactical standpoint as well.”

As Michelle Wie West launches her #HoodieforGolf initiative to grow the women’s game, it’s worth noting the work that both Rose and Stenson do to increase the opportunities for women to play the game.

Rose and his wife, Kate, founded the Rose Ladies Series in 2020 to provide playing opportunities while the Ladies European Tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stenson and LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam will host the Scandinavian Mixed, a co-sanctioned event by the European Tour and Ladies European Tour, June 10-13 at Sweden’s Vallda Golf & Country Club. The tournament will feature 78 men and 78 women on the same course, competing for one prize fund and one trophy for the first time.

“It’s a unique one, the first of its kind having both men and women playing together in the same tournament for the same prize check,” Stenson said of the mixed event. “And it is going to be interesting to see, I’m sure we are going to have some little challenges getting the setup and getting all that to work out perfectly the first year, but it’s innovative and inclusive concept and it’s not just going to be a celebration of golf in Sweden on the men’s and women’s side, it’s, I think it’s going to be an event that’s going to be seen and heard around the world, really, and that’s really the part where you can get those benefits and really spread the word around.”

Rose said he doesn’t see an even pay structure happening in golf without the women’s game being highlighted to the point where fans at home have the chance to get to know the players as more than a name on a leaderboard.

“And obviously that’s sort of been what the Rose Ladies Series is all about, creating a platform for them to play through lockdown and also try to support times of the year where their schedule isn’t as strong,” said Rose. “So just giving – like as an athlete you got to keep your skill set sharp, so we’re trying to support the playing opportunities, but at the same time very cognizant of telling the stories and trying to create the upward profile so the journey towards a better pay equality is possible and that’s why (the Scandinavian Mixed) is amazing.”


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