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'Ten majors may match Sweden legend Ibrahimovic'

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Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug

Open champion Henrik Stenson says he may need another nine major titles before he can be compared to Sweden’s iconic footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Stenson won his first major on Sunday with a record-low total at Royal Troon.

His compatriot has joined Manchester United after spells with top European clubs including Barcelona and AC Milan – and combined transfer fees of £150m.

“I think I said I needed to win 10 majors to get up to his recognition,” Stenson told BBC Radio 5 live.

Asked whether he was now on a par with 34-year-old Ibrahimovic, who scored 50 goals in 51 matches for French champions Paris St-Germain last season and won 12 trophies in four seasons at the club, Stenson added: “Maybe five [majors] will do it, I don’t know.”

The 40-year-old, who carded 20 under par to beat American Phil Mickelson by three shots after a thrilling final round at the Scottish course, said his Open win was “definitely the icing on the cake”.

However, he has little time to rest with the fourth major of the year, the USPGA Championship, starting at Baltusrol on 28 July.

“This is huge back home and it has been quite chaotic with all the media but it’s all good and I’m just going to try to recharge,” Stenson added.

“It’s a tough thing to do when you’ve only got a few days until the next major and then the Olympics.”

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The world’s top four players – Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson – have all withdrawn from next month’s Rio Olympics next month, citing concerns over the Zika virus, which has been linked to defects in newborn babies and also found to cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that leads to temporary paralysis in adults.

Stenson, who has risen to fifth in the rankings, said of golf’s first appearance at the Olympics for 112 years: “I’ve been looking forward to it for a good few years, it’s always a great honour to represent your country.

“I’m a huge sporting fan in general and to see an Olympic Games from the inside and participate is going to be huge.

“If I can do myself and my country proud by bringing home a medal that would be awesome. I’ve got a Claret Jug now and any Olympic medal would be quite nice to put next to it in the trophy cabinet.”

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Stenson birdied four of his final five holes at Royal Troon on Sunday and had 10 in total in a round of 63 that saw him finish clear of Mickelson, who posted four birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free 65.

“I was so zoned in the last five holes I didn’t know how many birdies I had made in that round, it was not until I was sitting in recording and Phil said ‘you made 10 birdies today, what’s that all about?’

“I was so focused on getting the job done, it was not until I had that birdie putt at the last that I could let go and realise that I’ve done the achievement of my career.

“It was just an added bonus for that putt to drop and set a new Open record but it was all about bringing that Claret Jug home to Sweden and be the first Swedish male to win a major championship.

“It’s huge and it’s going to get better and better with time I’m sure.”

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'Ten majors may match Sweden legend Ibrahimovic'

Henrik Stenson with the Claret Jug

Open champion Henrik Stenson says he may need another nine major titles before he can be compared to Sweden’s iconic footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Stenson won his first major on Sunday with a record-low total at Royal Troon.

His compatriot has joined Manchester United after spells with top European clubs including Barcelona and AC Milan – and combined transfer fees of £150m.

“I think I said I needed to win 10 majors to get up to his recognition,” Stenson told BBC Radio 5 live.

Asked whether he was now on a par with 34-year-old Ibrahimovic, who scored 50 goals in 51 matches for French champions Paris St-Germain last season and won 12 trophies in four seasons at the club, Stenson added: “Maybe five [majors] will do it, I don’t know.”

The 40-year-old, who carded 20 under par to beat American Phil Mickelson by three shots after a thrilling final round at the Scottish course, said his Open win was “definitely the icing on the cake”.

However, he has little time to rest with the fourth major of the year, the USPGA Championship, starting at Baltusrol on 28 July.

“This is huge back home and it has been quite chaotic with all the media but it’s all good and I’m just going to try to recharge,” Stenson added.

“It’s a tough thing to do when you’ve only got a few days until the next major and then the Olympics.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

The world’s top four players – Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson – have all withdrawn from next month’s Rio Olympics next month, citing concerns over the Zika virus, which has been linked to defects in newborn babies and also found to cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that leads to temporary paralysis in adults.

Stenson, who has risen to fifth in the rankings, said of golf’s first appearance at the Olympics for 112 years: “I’ve been looking forward to it for a good few years, it’s always a great honour to represent your country.

“I’m a huge sporting fan in general and to see an Olympic Games from the inside and participate is going to be huge.

“If I can do myself and my country proud by bringing home a medal that would be awesome. I’ve got a Claret Jug now and any Olympic medal would be quite nice to put next to it in the trophy cabinet.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Stenson birdied four of his final five holes at Royal Troon on Sunday and had 10 in total in a round of 63 that saw him finish clear of Mickelson, who posted four birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free 65.

“I was so zoned in the last five holes I didn’t know how many birdies I had made in that round, it was not until I was sitting in recording and Phil said ‘you made 10 birdies today, what’s that all about?’

“I was so focused on getting the job done, it was not until I had that birdie putt at the last that I could let go and realise that I’ve done the achievement of my career.

“It was just an added bonus for that putt to drop and set a new Open record but it was all about bringing that Claret Jug home to Sweden and be the first Swedish male to win a major championship.

“It’s huge and it’s going to get better and better with time I’m sure.”

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BBC Sport – Golf

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