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November 23, 2014

Henrik Stenson


STEVE TODD:  You said at the start of the week, it was your intention to come here and try and win the tournament and secure that second place, and you achieved both.  Tell me how much satisfaction you've gained from this week.
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, a lot.  Of course, for me at least, it takes a little bit of time for it to sink in.  When you're out there playing, you're so caught up in that and fighting really hard, and it was a hard day fighting for me.
I got off to a good start but then kind of middle of the round, a few things didn't go my way.  But I was hanging in there fighting hard, and I got my reward in the end.  If I would have dropped a couple shots further back, I wouldn't have been in that position to have a chance to finish strong and secure the title.
So I'm very pleased with that, and of course to come up with a couple great shots when I needed to and finish off in style.
STEVE TODD:  You've had a great year, and the only thing that was missing was a victory.  So it must be fantastic to end the year finally getting that.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, getting another picture on the wall at home in the office (laughing).
So, yeah, it is, and to do it down here, that was such a great place for me last year, and to come back and defend.  I never felt that it was much of an issue not having defending a tournament, but it would be a nice thing to do, and now I managed to achieve even that.
So very pleased with that, and again, to get a win in a strong championship, we have a lot of great players here this week, so there's always that extra icing on the cake when you win a tournament where you've got a strong field and you're up against some of the world's best.
So again, happy to come through and I think I've got the game plan pretty good for this course.  I played a lot of rounds now under 60, and this was the one that broke it.  But I could take that as my 13th attempt in a row to not break 70 when a 70 was good enough to win.
I'll be back and try and make it three in a row next year.

Q.  You looked ice‑cool playing 18, but what are your emotions like when you have a one‑stroke lead, a water hazard in the middle of the fairway; is your heart thumping?
HENRIK STENSON:  It is an intimidating hole when we play it off the forward tee, which is the tee we play it from most of the week.  And I think we played there three times out of four because it is more exciting for the fans to see us go for the green in two and potentially make some eagles and so on.
It was to get the ball in play, and if anything, miss it left further than right and you've got that creek there and I did miss it left and had a good lie and went for the easy lay‑up, and got a 7‑iron down the middle of the fairway.  And then just played a really good, solid pitching wedge from 125 yards into the wind and landed in a perfect spot and got it down to about, I don't know, six feet, something like that.  I wasn't going to be flashy on the putt.  Got to dribble it down there and inch your way in, but it was all about getting the job done and we did that.
Two really nice shots, the 5‑iron and the pitching wedge on 18.  On 16, I had a good tee ball on 16, and that was where Rafa's struggle started when he drove it in that middle bunker.  From there it went to worse when it trickled down, hit the lip and went in the water hazard and over the back.
I felt like I wasn't one to take my chances on, still played defensively, even though I had good numbers for pitching wedge.  It jumped left on the green and almost put myself in trouble by hitting the first putt five feet by or something like that, and that wasn't my intention to stand over that one and sweat, but that one went in, and yeah, the rest is history.
Very pleased with hanging about after the disaster of the day that was 11 for me.  I walked up to the ball with way too much club in my hand.  And instead of changing, I tried to play a cut 2‑iron against the wind and just like completely quit on it and hit like a push/slice/shank, something like that, straight into the building.
Then I took the club which I should have used which was a 4‑iron and hit it down the middle and made par on the second.  So thankfully by the end of the day, it didn't cost me the tournament.  But at that point, it felt like it could do.  But it's all about coming back after mistakes in this game, and I certainly did that.

Q.  Did you feel nervous?  You didn't look nervous at all.
HENRIK STENSON:  No, I'm the Ice Man, remember?  (Laughter) Of course I feel nervous.  Everyone's nervous.  Any one that says they aren't nervous, they are lying.

Q.  Let me have a crack at this question‑‑
HENRIK STENSON:  No, I'm not having any more kids (laughter).

Q.  There's a plaque in the middle of the 18th from what was deemed the shot of the year last year on the entire tour, entire arc of the season.  I would submit that the one you hit on 17 was more important, maybe less spectacular, more important.  Is that a fair thing to say?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I would say that's a fair assessment.  I saw on the board, depending on what Justin was going to do at the last, I was potentially going to be one behind.  I was tied at the top at that point with Rory and Justin.
So of course that's going to come down as the shot of the week for me, and the one that pretty much won me the tournament, because it makes a huge difference coming up the last having a one‑shot cushion; and having the luxury then to play it as a three‑shot, especially after missing the tee shot a bit, even though I was in a good spot.
So yeah, I guess even if I won't get a plaque, it still means a lot to me.  I can't have plaques on every hole (laughter).

Q.  I was going to ask the 11th, but you summed it up beautifully.  This win gets you back up to second in the world.  Where does that figure in your motivation to try to catch Rory, or are you not too bothered about that?
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, I was really close to being world No. 1 there around Wentworth time last year and it was all down to what Adam did at Colonial, and he stepped up to the plate and won that tournament to make it a no‑discussion.
So yeah, it would be a nice thing to have been ranked the world's best player at some point.  But if I got the opportunity to choose, I'll go for a major over being ranked No. 1 in the world any day of the week.
So I'm going to try to prepare well for the majors and be in good shape for when they start next year.  World Rankings is all about‑‑ it shows you the current form on what you've done in the last two years.
And yeah, of course if I keep on playing well and being up there in a lot of big events, I potentially might have a crack at it but it is a process and not something that I wake up every day and saying, I've got to get to that point.  But yeah, it would be a nice thing to be ranked No. 1 at some point.

Q.  Can I persuade you to tell us that your greatest strength, in fact, is your mind and not your ability to hit the golf ball?
HENRIK STENSON:  Can we make it a tie?  (Laughter) Of course, what goes on between the ears is a key factor in this game.  We know that.  A lot of times I managed to come through when I need to.  It's not a guarantee that you're always going to do it and certainly didn't feel that when I was grabbing my 4‑iron and that provisional ball on 11; it didn't seem like it was a certainty.
So yeah, it's a strong point.  I'll definitely give it that.  But yeah, we'll keep it a tie between my ball‑striking when I'm good and hopefully my strength mentally.

Q.  You've already made a little bit of change in your schedule towards the end of the year.  I think you're not playing Nedbank where you're very comfortable at Sun City.  How are you already planning your 2015 schedule?  I know you said you want to cut down a couple of tournaments.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, hopefully a couple I can remove at some point, but it's not the easiest.  Like I said before, it's a lot to do with a number of tournaments that I have to play on the PGA TOUR and European Tour and then you have tournaments that you want to play and courses you like and other obligations and so on.
So it's a bit of a tricky one.  I'm starting out with the Middle East swing, Abu Dhabi being a key tournament, having won the other ones in this part of the world; it would be nice to try and contend in Abu Dhabi and give myself a chance to win there.  I came close a couple of times.
That's kind of where we're starting the year with those three down here, and then I've got February off to prepare and rest and be at home in Florida.  And then it's really busy from the first week in March with Doral, which is my first one states side, all the way through the FedEx.  It's so much golf and that's the time to be rested and practiced.
So hopefully I can come into that patch a bit better prepared than I was this year.  Any week where you can give yourself a chance to win is great, and the more chances you're up there, the more times you will win.
So yeah, I'm looking forward to hopefully a strong season in 2015.

Q.  I think after the 7th, there was a stretch of nine holes where neither you nor Rafa made a birdie, and of course you leaked some shots, the pair of you.  How difficult is it to get out of that rut when the both of you are going through it and when it's the end of a long, hard season?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it was a long day again.  Like I said, I've been coming in here, even though I didn't play a huge amount of golf in the previous months, still this is the third week with a lot of traveling and busy schedule off the golf course.  This week was possibly more busy than the Nordea Masters off the golf course, a lot of commitments.
And I felt the heat; not having played in heat like this for a couple of weeks certainly took its toll, and I was trying to drink and eat a lot and so on, but I still felt like it was hitting me towards the last five, six holes pretty much every day.
And of course, when you're not playing your best, and bleeding a little bit, it's going to be even harder to get out of that.  I gave myself the chance to do something in the end due to hanging in there and then fighting hard in the middle of the round when things weren't going my way, and I didn't play my best.
So thanks to that, I had the opportunity to finish off with some fireworks there on the last two holes.  It could have been long over for me if I wouldn't have done so.

Q.  Jumeirah Golf Estates, you're a brand ambassador for them.  How nice is it when you have such obligation, and is there always a pressure when you're involved with a sponsor's event and things like that; how pleasing was it to come through?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it's very pleasing.  It's a big event like we talked about, and yeah, to win this two years in a row is something very special.  Dubai has been a big part of my career.  I made it my home for almost ten years, and I know everyone down in this region and all the golf courses, it means a lot to me.
So to come through and win here again as Jumeirah Golf Estates ambassador is great.  Everyone is here working really hard to make this place as good as it can be, and it's just going to continue to develop and be even better in the years to come, I'm certain of that.

Q.  The 12th, you love the 12th; you had the 5‑iron last year and crucial putt this year.  If you had not holed that, we might not be talking about the 17th?
HENRIK STENSON:  No, and I said that out there in the interviews just after the round.  I think that was the key one, really, after making the double on 11.  I still hit a pretty nice 6‑iron in but the front part of that green to the pin is evil.
That's where I rated my 5‑iron to two feet this year or whatever it was so highly, because it's a really difficult pin position.  I came up a couple of feet too short now and it rolls all the way back down.
       At that point, it was a tricky up‑and‑down, and didn't quite get the pitch where I wanted to, but it still left me a decent putt because I was short an uphill putt.
       And at the same time I made that one, Rafa played a fantastic bunker shot.  He was unlucky on a few occasions and he made an incredible bunker shot to four or five feet, four feet, and unfortunately for him that one lipped‑out.  That was the key point in the round.  He dropped one and I managed to save myself on that one and kept it at one.

Q.  What do you reckon the length of that par putt put was?
HENRIK STENSON:  12 feet I would say.
STEVE TODD:  Congratulations.

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