Henrik Stenson is back in Ayrshire, just a few miles north of his great triumph of a year ago, but there’s definitely something different about him.
“I think I always had the belief that I could manage to win a major championship or manage to win The Open,” said the Swede, who hands back at Claret Jug next week once he’s played himself back into links mode at Dundonald in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. “But at the same time, you can never be 100 per cent sure until you actually do it.
“I think the long‑term kind of confidence boost is always going to be there. You probably feel like you’re a quarter of an inch taller as a result of being a major champion.”
However, he also knows, the slate is now clean.
“The golf ball doesn’t know what happened last year, you have to tell it every time you’re playing,” he continued. “That’s what I need to focus on this week and next week. Because if I want to play with the best, I’ve got to bring my best. You can’t live on what’s been in the past.
“But I know I can go out and shoot virtually my best score in the final group at a major championship when I need it the most, and that’s something I will always carry with me.”
Stenson has watched back the final day at Royal Troon last year, but typically has a different perspective than one might exopect.
“It’s funny , I guess I got a bit of a perfectionist on one of my shoulders, as I’m watching that round, and I can still pick flaws in it,” he said.
“That’s both kind of good and bad, because it’s an amazing round of golf, given the circumstances. But that’s the beauty of this game. You’re never done, you’re never finished. You never reach that level of completion, you can always be better.
“Yeah, I can even find flaws, even though there’s a lot of shots and a lot of things that I did that day that I’m very, very happy about.”
While Stenson would of course love to successfully defend the Jug next week – and it’s happened a few times at Royal Birkdale – there are elements he’d like to get on with the rest of his career.
“It’s kind of like before and after having kids. When you have kids, you can’t believe what you did with all the time you had before.
“This is the same. I don’t know what I did with my time before I had the Claret Jug in my possession. And I kind of treat it like my baby, as well.
“I’ve been pretty good at saying no, but you’ve still got to do a lot of things. For the year that you are the defending champion, every week you show up at a tournament it’s new, they haven’t seen you since you won, and it’s all the pictures and all the autographs and all the interviews.
“And you’re constantly talking about what happened six months, nine months, 12 months ago; so it’s easy to be a little stuck in the past.
“I think it’s going to be a bit of turning the page next week when I have to return The Claret on Monday, and then we’re kind of looking ahead instead of looking back.”