Henrik Stenson dismisses chances of retaining The Open title

Henrik Stenson doubts that he will retain the Open title, which he won last year. Ross Kinnaird/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

A downbeat Henrik Stenson all-but dismissed his chances of retaining his Open title, despite a closing 68 in the Scottish Open.

Stenson looked to be coming nicely into form as he carded six birdies in the space of nine holes during his final round at Dundonald Links, only to bogey the 15th and 18th.

And asked if he could match Padraig Harrington in winning back-to-back Open titles at Royal Birkdale, the 41-year-old Swede said: "I think we're hoping for a lot in terms of what we saw this week.

"We certainly need to step that up quite a lot if we want to have anything to do with it next week. There's always a chance and I'm going to enjoy the week. You never know, it might be the only time we're defending champion at the Open Championship so I might as well enjoy it.

"Not feeling that you're playing anywhere near 100 per cent, 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."

After winning his epic duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon last year, Stenson went on to win Olympic silver in Rio and started 2017 with three top-10s in his first four events.

But he has missed the cut in both majors so far this season and admitted he had struggled to cope with the extra demands on his time which come with being a major champion.

"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," he added.

"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."