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September 26, 2014

Henrik Stenson


PAUL SYMES: The crowds are certainly shouting out there for you today and you've given them quite a show.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, it was a great day at the office. I felt that all along. I was very happy to partner up with Justin. I was very happy with the partnership. We know each other well since before, even though we never played together in events like this. But I felt comfortable with Justin by my side and we played even better in the afternoon than in the morning. In the morning it was more a case of teaming up good in the morning. When I was out of a hole, he played well and vice versa. I made a couple of steals on the second and ninth when Bubba was on the green in two on the second, and I was in the rough and Justin was in the rough. But I managed to hit it close, make four, and he 3-putted for par. There were a couple of crucial moments, and like I said, the second, Justin made a great birdie on 4. I made a good birdie on 9, when he was in trouble there and then he pulled a great putt in on 10 to go 4-up. So in the morning, it was really ours to lose on the back nine with 4-up through 10, and then we actually came out and played better in the afternoon. I had a quick session with my swing coach, Pete Cowen, on the range before going out, and I felt like I was hitting the ball better before I teed off in the foursome, and I certainly hit the ball better on the course in the afternoon. I think we made six birdies together, and we knew it was going to be a tough match against Zach and Hunter, the two players who don't give away anything really for free, I guess up until the 17th. But we won 15, and we both halved with birdies on 16. Had a long-range putt that I lagged up for a change compared to the one on 12. I hit it close there and I guess they felt forced to try to make something happen towards the last couple of holes there and they 3-putted and the match was over. After a long day, we didn't have to come 18, and two points out of a possible two so far. Looking forward to the rest.

Q. Obviously it's been windy out there today, the course is long, the rough is thick. How tiring is it going to be for the guys going through the weekend and how careful will you be about conserving energy?
HENRIK STENSON: It's a tough one. I guess if you're asked to keep on going, we'll keep on going as long as we keep on bringing points home and playing well. But of course, as always the case, if you play a lot of matches in the first two days, there's always a chance you have not much left for the singles. But sometimes you have to make a gamble on that if you have a pair that's playing well. Imagine we'll continue in the morning and we'll see in the afternoon -- (cheers from outside) -- that's good to see. We have a lot of strong players on our team, and imagine we'll see some possible changes and see some new constellations out there tomorrow. But it's a tiring day, and two days like this, it's taking a lot of energy out of you. But again, the crowd is fantastic. We are getting a lot of support, and that kind of lifts you forward, and the adrenaline, as long as you keep on making good pars and birdies, you're not feeling the tiredness too much.

Q. Justin seemed to be very solid all through the day. What makes him such a good Ryder Cup player, do you think?
HENRIK STENSON: Well, he's a solid player all around. He's got a sharp short game. He was putting really good today. Made some crucial putts and he was driving the ball nicely, as well. So if you're out there with no real weaknesses, then it's hard not to produce some good golf. So no, he's a great all-around player with a very high capacity. I could have found worse partners, I promise you (chuckles).

Q. Playing with someone who is playing as well as that, particularly in foursomes, does it give you a lift and increase your confidence?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, and I was a little worried about my own game in the morning. Like I said, I didn't swing well. I didn't hit a lot of good shots, and that's normally my strong point, as well, the ball-striking part, which both Justin and I are both strong ball-strikers. I was very pleased that I kind of figured that out a little bit. It's one of them, you can't have any regrets, but of course you're always feeling bad if you're kind of letting your partner down out there. The only real time I felt like I did that was that first putt on 12 that left it a good ten feet short, but he hit a great putt and rolled that one in. Other than that, it was -- and, well, I guess the wind caught us a little bit, as well, on 7. I got a gust in the middle of my stroke and then he got one there. We gave 7 away. That was the only real giveaway out there. Other than that, we played really solid, and like I said, we made six birdies in foursomes; on this golf course and during this condition, that says a lot about how we played in the afternoon.

Q. There's a certain kudos and responsibility afforded to the guys sent out first Friday morning, the trailblazers to put points on the board for the rest of the guy. How much confidence did you take from the captaincy to go and lead the lads?
HENRIK STENSON: Of course, it should be a strong pairing. Both Justin and myself have had some good tournaments throughout the years and are considered pretty good players, so of course we should be a good combination, but that's not always a guarantee by any means. You know, we were up against two good players that didn't have their best of days, and that's why I said, we won 2&1 here in the afternoon, playing much better really than we did really when we won 5&4 in the morning. Sometimes you can play average with good timing within the fourball and win a match like we did. I took more out of our performance in the afternoon. Of course it's an honour to be sent out first, and we responded in a nice way to deliver that first point.

Q. Can you just talk about your relationship with Justin? You live near each other in the States. Do you socialize together? What is your relationship?
HENRIK STENSON: No, never. (Laughter). Well, we've lived 40 yards away from each other for a good three, four years. He actually recently is moving, but we've spent a lot of time together at Lake Nona. Our kids have played together and of course we travel together to tournaments and all the rest of it. We're good friends, and that makes it a whole lot easier when you're out there and you know someone really well. Our games work well together, as well. Like I said, we're good ball-strikers, both of us, so you can apply some good pressure if you've got two balls in play and keep on hitting greens. Two balls is always better than one if you're trying to make birdie. We did that pretty well.

Q. This is your first time back home in a Ryder Cup since 2006, is it?
HENRIK STENSON: No, since 2008, so six years ago. So it's been a bit of a wait, but well worth it.

Q. What's it like to be back?
HENRIK STENSON: It's great. I have some of my greatest memories from the 2006 and 2008 Ryder Cup. Of course it's great to be back on the team and get the European jersey on once again. And hopefully it's not the last time now.

Q. Obviously you guys must have talked of some numbers at the start of the day where you want to see yourself. Given the situation that is right now in the tournament, how satisfied and what would be the feeling in Team Europe right now?
HENRIK STENSON: It's great. I thought we had a good start in the morning, and of course it stung a little bit that Thomas and Martin lost the last hole there, and also, the last match with Sergio and Rory. So 18 wasn't too kind to us in the morning, but we had a lot of blue up early in the afternoon. If Victor and G-Mac can bring a point home there, and maybe 18 is kinder to Rory and Sergio now in the evening here, they are coming up the last 1-down, are they? So you never know what might happen. The important thing is to win this afternoon's session and square things up again and then it's a new day tomorrow. We knew it was going to be a tough Ryder Cup, and it's going to be all the way until the very end on Sunday, I'm sure, before we get a winner in this Cup.

Q. A lot was made about the Americans targeting McIlroy and Poulter. I know it's not done yet, but the day could end without Poulter or McIlroy delivering a point, and yet Europe very much in control. What does that say about you guys, what effect does it have for you?
HENRIK STENSON: I think we've got a great team and it doesn't really matter who brings the points home. There's always going to be some pairings that will lose, and it's so much that plays into it. I don't really care who wins and who loses, and don't think that plays hugely into any part. It's going to be some changes, I'm sure, in some of the pairings for tomorrow, and then, you know, it's a new day. And, I don't know, does it feel better to win over certain players? Yeah, maybe a hair, but that's probably on a personal level and doesn't really affect the team that much I think.

PAUL SYMES: Thank you.
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