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September 23, 2014

Henrik Stenson


STEVE TODD: Henrik, warm welcome to Gleneagles. Your first Ryder Cup since 2008. How does it feel to be back in the fold?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it feels great. Been awhile. Like you said, I played in 2006 and 2008. I never felt like I was done. I wanted to get the European shirt on at least once more, and here we are. I'm delighted with that, and really looking forward to the week.

STEVE TODD: It was obviously a great start to the qualification process for you, fast start. It must seem like a long time; how does it feel to actually be here?

HENRIK STENSON: It's been a bit of a wait. I had a great start to the qualifying campaign, and I was pretty much locked in at Christmas, which is nice, don't get me wrong. I don't mind that, rather than sweating it out the last couple of weeks for a spot. But it's always that long buildup, and then as you get closer and closer, time goes quicker and now we're here. Yeah, going to enjoy it, and hopefully be a great week for us.

STEVE TODD: And raring to go now?

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, we're going to get out and see the golf course. Maybe you got that in your papers, I can't remember when I was here last time, 2005 or 2006, something like that?

STEVE TODD: I haven't, no.

HENRIK STENSON: You didn't prepare yourself (laughter). But I have been here. I played in 2000; I remember that. I think I played in '01 or '02 and I'm sure it's been once or twice. So I've played here a few times. I do remember the golf course. I think there might be one little change on the 12th hole is a par 4. I think that used to be a par 5 when I played. So a minor change here and there, but other than that, I'm sure I'll be familiar with the course and I'll find my way around.

Q. It's well known you're a fun-loving guy. Is this an environment where you can play pranks, and can you tell us some of the pranks you've maybe played in the past?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I try not to injure my teammates this week. But if it all gets a bit sad in the team room, I'm sure I can try and cheer it up a little bit. Hopefully we don't need that. But it's a fun week with the boys on the golf course and off the golf course and with everyone that's associated with the team, and the wives and girlfriends and all the rest. So it's a great week. It's a memory for life to be part of The Ryder Cup, and this is my third one, and I've got some of my great golfing memories are from the previous two that I played. Hopefully we can add a few good memories to that and, yeah, I hope I can pull one or two good jokes off.

Q. Do you remember your first one? Were you quiet when you were a rookie, or is it just your personality, has it evolved in time?
HENRIK STENSON: I think you're always a little bit more sitting back when it's your first one and you don't really know what to expect and how it's going to play out. As the week goes on, you'll probably feel a little bit more comfortable and so on. But yeah, 2006 is such a long time ago, you know. I can't quite remember. I was not quiet when I had that green wig on, anyway, on Sunday afternoon, I know that much.

Q. You've played two of The Ryder Cups before. You're a top-4 player in the world. What do you think you bring to the team, and what role do you have on the team?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, I guess with my age and how long I've played, I'm one of the more experienced players on the team. In terms of Ryder Cup, possibly not. I've played two before this, and there's a lot of players on the team that's played more than that. I guess we would all possibly line up behind Lee. He might need to be the new General on the team, and Ian is a very energetic and driving force, as well, and Sergio, as well. So we have got kind of a lot of leader characters on the team. Potentially I can step up a little bit more than I've done on the previous two that I was part of, but it feels like we've got a great group of players, and we all know each other well and we've played a lot of golf together. It's not like you need to think too much about that. A lot of assistant captains and a great captain.

Q. Will you consider playing a role --
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it's all about winning points when you're out there regardless of who you're playing with and how many matches you play. You just got to focus on your own game and try and do your best. Hopefully I'll play a bigger role in terms of the points that I hopefully can bring to the team. I think I got 1 1/2 out of three matches at The K Club and 1 1/2 out of four matches at Valhalla. I wouldn't might getting another half a point or a point out of this one. Yeah, it all depends on pairings. It's still early in the week, so we'll see how the week plays out from here on and who is going to play with who.

Q. We've touched on the character that you have with your teammates in the European dressing room, but how much interaction can there be between the American players, and what's your favourite memory of banter that you've had with some of the American players?
HENRIK STENSON: I think it's changed possibly a little bit over time. A lot of the European players are now living in the U.S., playing more on the PGA TOUR, so we are more on a day-to-day basis with the American Team. So I think way back, it was more like a couple of times a year, you would see each other, and now it's the players they play with week-in and week-out. I still think there will be some laughs and friendly banter out there. But everyone is so focused when the matches start and when you're out on the golf course, but it's still going to be a friendly environment, I'm sure.

Q. Is there a particular story or moment that you remember?
HENRIK STENSON: With the American players? Yeah, I've got a good one with Phil, but it's not really to be told here (laughter).

Q. Go on.
HENRIK STENSON: Got you curious now, didn't I. No, we had some friendly banter at Akron before the 2008 Ryder Cup, and it was just like a perfect moment. Whatever we chatted about on the golf course at Akron, and then kind of the way it played out, me and Rob played him and Hunter Mahan possibly in the fourballs, and it was just a fun Ryder Cup moment. You can ask him instead and he might share the story with you.

Q. You said you needed these two weeks off after a pretty grueling run. Tell us how you've managed.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I spent about nine days in Sweden -- I'll start over. I spent nine days in the U.S., so I had some good practise and family time at home in Orlando. Then Emma and I flew over to Sweden and got there on Friday, so I had a long weekend in Sweden, so some more family and light practise session on Sunday, and just being at home and just chilling out for a few days. So I feel fairly energised. It's still been a long year and a long year behind me before that. I could have done with a month off, but then again, you always risk getting rusty. No, I feel pretty good. My game feels all right, and you know, once the week starts, you're not going to feel tired at all, because you run on adrenaline this week, regardless. It's going to be a good week ahead of us.

Q. Lee and Thomas were in earlier and they were talking about Victor Dubuisson and said they don't actually know much about him or what to make of him. Has this week been a sort of getting to know him process with Victor?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I would think so. Whenever there's someone that has not played many years on Tour and you might not know from before, this week is really a week that gives you that opportunity, and you always feel a slightly stronger bond with the players you've played together with in an event like this. So I'm sure we'll get to know him a bit more. I've still played a few rounds with him and so on, but yeah, I think for most of the guys on the team, it's in the early stages of getting to know him as a person off the golf course more so, and I'm sure we'll get a chance throughout the week.

Q. 12 months ago, you were flying and you had just won the FedEx en route to The Race to Dubai. Compare your game now to then.
HENRIK STENSON: I'm pretty happy with the way it feels right now. I didn't play great in the Playoffs. But there's more to it. Like I said, if I've been a bit low on energy and so on and not really been practising as much as I would have liked and all the rest; but all in all, I'm not unhappy with the way I'm playing. You know, if you get going out there this week, you can step it up an extra level just due to the circumstances I hope and think. So yeah, I think I'm in decent shape.

Q. There's always talk about whether beating someone is worth more than a point, whether that's Poulter or Tiger back in the day, etc. Does America have anyone like that?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think there's about 12 of them. A point is a point. Out of a personal satisfaction, of course, I'm sure if you beat Phil, you feel like that's a good match to win, any time you manage to beat a class player like Phil. But they have got a lot of good players. Rickie has played great this year, and I'm sure you feel good about yourself if you manage to get a point out of him. But it's minor. It's really about getting the points and winning your matches. Every match is going to be a tough match, and it doesn't really matter who you're up against. You're going to be happy if you get that point at the end of the day.

Q. Who is the most annoying American? Who is our Poulter?
HENRIK STENSON: I wouldn't say it's on the team. Possibly someone in close proximity (laughter).

Q. Next question --
HENRIK STENSON: No, I wouldn't go in there. I'm not giving anything in that department. Should I just say they are all equally as annoying? Is that the political -- (laughter) no. They are all good guys, like I said, I play with them week-in and week-out and get along with all of them. It's a very prestigeful match that we are playing, and I'm just going to enjoy that and try to win as many points as I can.

Q. This course has had a lot of criticism down the years. What's your opinion of it, and especially how has it evolved in the last three or four years?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, that's a hard one for me to answer given that I don't think I've been back since 2005 or 2006. I haven't seen the progress or the development of the golf course. Every course matures as time goes on, and I just recall that it's got a good finish. For the matches going all the way, is it 14, the drivable par 4, and then 15, long par 4, and then you've got a reachable par 5, good par 3 in 17 and another reachable par 5 at the end. So I think it's got the potential of some great finishing or some great finishes to some of the matches going all the way. There's always personal preferences on golf courses we play. Every week, you're going to have guys loving it or guys feeling like it's so-so or doesn't suit your eye or your game or whatever. I think we've got a good venue here and from what I hear, the condition is perfect. So I can hopefully answer more of that when I come off the golf course and I've seen it.

Q. Can you recall how you felt about it in 2005 and your spectrum from loving it to hating it, where would it sit?
HENRIK STENSON: I mean, it's not like a linksy links. It's a different one. I never played Kings or Queens, but that's kind of what I heard, that it's not the same as those ones. We play a fair amount of Jack Nicklaus courses around the world, and some might not even have been designed by him himself. But you kind of know what you're getting. It's normally with the greens, they like to put them at a bit of an angle, and then you have -- whatever land you put them on, plays a part, as well. I think it's a good course and we'll enjoy playing it.

Q. The table tennis question. Ian says you're the best on The European Team?
HENRIK STENSON: I haven't beaten him yet, I'm not sure.

Q. Have you beaten Thomas yet?
HENRIK STENSON: I haven't played him yet and I haven't played much table tennis with the guys this week. I'll give you an update during the week. Normally the Swedes are good. Not much else to do than play ping-pong then, is it. We normally get along pretty good in that department and I hope I can get a few points on the table tennis account, as well. I'll give you an update later.

STEVE TODD: Thanks for your time and wish you well this week.
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