Stenson pessimistic about retaining British Open title

AP

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Sweden's Henrik Stenson prepares to putt on the 5th hole on day three of the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, Troon, Scotland, Saturday July 15, 2017. (Mark Runnacles/PA via AP)

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 Sunday — a 4-under 68 for a score of 4 under overall — but it still wasn't enough to raise his hopes of lifting the claret jug again.

"I know I'm not really where I want to be in my game and maybe nothing else, either," Stenson said, "but I'll try to enjoy."

Stenson hasn't won a title since shooting a final-round 63 at Royal Troon to win his first major.

He said his ball-striking hasn't 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 hasn't been in good shape for a long time and you can't really work when you're trying to perform," Stenson said. "It's always that battle and I don't 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. It's 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 we're defending champion at the Open Championship so I might as well enjoy it," Stenson said.

"I think that's going to be the most important thing coming into an event like that, not feeling that you're playing anywhere near 100 percent," he added. "You can't really put that pressure (on yourself) that you're going to be up there and contend. Maybe we can turn things around a little bit but I'm looking forward to the week regardless."

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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