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Henrik Stenson Leading at the BMW International Open

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(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sweden's Henrik Stenson used to be a prominent fixture on leaderboards. In 2007, he won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and then took the biggest non-major prize by winning The Players Championship in 2009.

Since that May day at the TPC at Sawgrass, though, the tall Swede has had trouble with his game.

Having earned only $877,028 for all of 2010 and the first half of 2011, Stenson is fortunate to have a five-year exemption in his back pocket from his Players win.

Missing five of six cuts going into the U.S. Open, his first round scoring average was 75.30. That type of number was continually putting him behind the eight ball to make the cut.

When he has managed to score well, the results have followed. He shot 66 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and finished 44th. At last week's U.S. Open, he opened with a 70 and finished 23rd.

On Thursday, Stenson opened with an 8-under 64 at the European Tour's BMW International Open and leads by a stroke.

"I don't have much to complain about," said Stenson said of his one-shot lead over Gary Boyd in Germany. "I think the course played a shot tougher this afternoon, but if you are playing good, then you can still hit a good number."

Stenson's round consisted of one eagle, seven birdies and one bogey. The round was his lowest on the European Tour since a second-round 64 at the Dubai Desert Classic in February 2007, his last stroke-play event on the European Tour.

"I played well at the U.S. Open last week," Stenson said. "I didn't get the result that I wanted, but I was driving the ball really well at times and then kind of came out of it a little bit and then back in. It was a little bit up and down, but still in the right direction."

Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.

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