Henrik Stenson has returned to The Open, and while the Swede could well defend his title and leave Royal Birkdale this week gripping the Claret Jug again, for now he has returned the famous silver jug to The Open governors, the R&A.

But at least he did so in style, arriving at Birkdale yesterday in a one-of-a-kind, Mercedes-Benz F015 electric concept car.

“It’s bittersweet to hand it back,” says Stenson, 41, who produced one of the greatest winning final rounds in the history of The Open last year at Royal Troon, shooting 63 to defeat Phil Mickelson by three.

“It’s been the busiest year, but also the best year in my professional career. It was certainly a dream come true, winning The Open.

“[The Claret Jug] has almost become part of the family. It’s been traveling with me around the world. It brings a lot of smiles to enthusiastic golfers when they get to hold it and take pictures with it. It’s been a fun year but at the same time I am ready to focus on what’s in front of me rather than what’s behind.”

True to his lively character, Stenson has not held back in enjoying his year with the Claret Jug. On the night of his famous victory a year ago he filled it with Champagne to share with friends and family.

“It tasted rather good coming out of the Claret Jug, I can tell you that,” adds Stenson, who also went jet skiing in Florida with the Claret Jug tucked into his life jacket.

“The jet ski is probably the goofiest and most fun we’ve had with it. I’ve made an official promise that if I ever win the Claret Jug again, I’m going skydiving with it. And I don’t know which is going to be harder, winning the Claret Jug again or going skydiving afterwards because that thought scares me a little bit… It won’t stop me from trying to win it, though.”

Stenson, the current world number eight, tees off in the first round on Thursday at 9:47am, with Jordan Spieth and Si Woo Kim.

Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz – an Official Patron and the Official Car of The Open.