SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - Henrik Stenson was receiving physical therapy at Royal Birkdale on Thursday evening when he was told his rented house was burgled during the first round of his British Open title defense.
Thieves targeted Stenson’s possessions rather than those of his wife’s, making off with watches, credit cards and his suitcase containing most of his golf clothing.
Stenson said he felt “anger from the word go,” but also relief that none of his family was there at the time of the burglary and that no one was hurt. His two kids aren’t with him this week, only his wife Emma.
There was also frustration at having to spend “four semi-chaotic hours” dealing with police reports on Thursday night. After all, not only should Stenson have been preparing for his second round but he has been a busy man this week as the defending champion.
“Would rather just go back and wind down and take it easy,” he said on Friday after his second round. “That was all I was looking forward to and that didn’t happen. I had to get some new gear and so on.
“But all in all we’re in good shape. And nothing happened to any person, which is the main thing.”
The burglary didn’t take place at the property used by British Open organizers for a pre-tournament promotional video involving Stenson, which showed a Mercedes pulling up at the front door of a house and the Swedish player getting into the car with the claret jug. He returned the trophy at a ceremony on the first tee at Royal Birkdale on Monday.
However, he had been pretty open about where he was staying this week, accepting photo requests outside his private accommodation and getting picked up and dropped off in a car with “The Open” logo on it.
“You know how social media works,” he said. “If someone takes a picture in front of the house, it might be tagged where the picture was taken, and someone puts one and one together. So there are many, many different reasons or ways it could have happened.
“I don’t know, I just know that I don’t believe in a coincidence that it was just a normal burglary.”
Stenson said the burglary will make him be “a little bit cautious of a few things going forward.”
In the short term, he was left with just his carry-on bag and some dirty laundry - “they didn’t get the full jackpot,” Stenson said - so needed a new wardrobe for the final three days of the Open. His clothes sponsor, Boss, is also a sponsor of the tournament so he was able to stock up with clothing on site, from the company’s display unit and hospitality tent.
Logos of his other sponsors had to be embroidered to his new gear before his second round.
“If you see people Bossed up in this way,” Stenson said, jokingly, “feel free to ask what they were doing between 12 and 4 (p.m.) yesterday.”
In a statement issued during his second round, Stenson said he was “going to try not to let this spoil the week in any way.”
He has shot rounds of 70 and 73, and is tied for 24th - eight strokes off leader Jordan Spieth. Stenson said Thursday’s incident didn’t affect his second round, played in wet and windy conditions at Birkdale.
Police have asked for assistance to find the thieves.
“I’ll be out there looking tonight,” Stenson said.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
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