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March 11, 2015

Henrik Stenson


MARK STEVENS:  Henrik Stenson, going to make your first start here at the Valspar Championship.  Just completed the Pro-Am.  Kind of give your opinion on the course and your thoughts coming into the week.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  It's always good to come to see new places, new courses and I think this one will suit my game pretty well if I can play well.
It's a course where you position yourself off the tee quite a lot, you have to lay back unless you really want to try and thread a few of the tee shots out there.
So, quite a few 2-irons and 4-woods, 3-woods off the tee and little bit longer irons into the greens which are pretty small and kind of sits at an angle towards you quite a lot so you want to try to keep it underneath the hole because I can only imagine the kind of quick putts you can get if you end up in the wrong place or chipping from the wrong place.
So, that's kind of the key this week to solid mid iron to short iron play and leave the ball in the correct positions.  Coming off a pretty good week at Doral, my first week back here and after a month off, so pretty pleased with that and hope to continue with some decent playing here.
MARK STEVENS:  Thank you.  Questions.

Q.  Why did you decide to add this and why are you going to change your schedule?  Will you add other events?
HENRIK STENSON:  Compared to previous years?  Well, I played Honda a few times but -- I don't -- I don't dislike the course.  I haven't done anything good, really.
With the change of the Match Play going later really actually gave me an opportunity with these long seasons, about four weeks off again between last year and starting up in the Middle East, I felt like that gave me a whole month off to be at home, work on my game, gym work, be with the family and have a proper preparation before the season kicks on.
I decided to leave Honda out for this year and added this one.  I heard some great remarks about this tournament and the course and I thought why not give it a try.
It's funny how it goes.  I played more or less 15 tournaments every year since '07 but it's funny how it becomes where you start in the season, back in the day and how much you kind of follow in the same footsteps.  It's just tends to be that way and this might be totally new.
If I have a good week here and like this week, which it seems, then this might be on the schedule for every year.  You never know.  It could be a bit of a turn around.

Q.  Were you pleasantly surprised at what you saw out there seeing the course first time?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  I think it's a course that will suit my game if I play to my strength.  My iron play is normally pretty solid.  That's something you need around here.
I can see why certain types of players have done well around this golf course.  It will be interesting.  I'll give you better idea on Sunday, I guess.

Q.  Why do you feel like certain players, maybe even yourself, tend to leave this one off the Florida swing?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think it's hard for me to say, you know, on scheduling only the guys play in the U.S.  For myself I started up ever year since 2001 in the Middle East.  I come back over for Match Play.  Then it's a busy part of the year, the whole spring schedule, it's tournaments every week.  You can't play every week, at least I can't.  You just got to have certain weeks off.
And, like I said, just because back in '07, '08 if I would have decided to go with this one instead of some other tournament, Honda, possibly I would have played this one every year.
Just coincidence when I made my schedule back in the day and kind of been sticking the same way since.  But to be able to give a good answer, of course you got to play all the events to see all the courses, which ones suits you and so on and I'll have a better idea after this week.

Q.  With your schedule basically set every year, is it refreshing to come to a new place, you know, this week and somewhere you've never been before, you have no expectations?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, it's always nice, especially at my age, you know, see some new places.  No, it's not too many times a year, you know, we play new countries or new tournaments so it's always interesting to see a new venue and yeah, it should work out fine for me if I play all right and we'll see for the years to come what the plan is going to be.

Q.  This tournament, to be fair, doesn't seem to have a lot going for it in terms of its spot on the schedule, you know, right before Arnold and after WGC and Masters leading up, et cetera, yet it draws some very strong players over the years, yourself notwithstanding, obviously.
Why do you think that is?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think as a golf course it's going to promote or give you -- give it awards if you're a strong iron player and longer iron spots in particular as well it seems like you got a lot of 4, 5, 6, 7-irons into these greens and you got to play a good game if you want to stick those in the right places and give yourself birdie chances and, of course, that tends to be the game of some strong players that does that.
I can see why a few other guys definitely feel like that's the right tournament for me to go to and to give themselves a chance to win it.

Q.  Did you know who was coming before you got here or do you even care about that in?
HENRIK STENSON:  No, not really.

Q.  No, you don't care?
HENRIK STENSON:  Both (laughter).  I didn't know and it's not -- if you win a tournament or if you're playing well at a tournament, of course it's going to be more rewarding if you play against a really strong field because anytime you win a tournament it's going to feel great, but it feels even better if you beat some of the top players.
So, I'm very positive with the field and looking forward to the challenge.

Q.  You said you heard a lot of good things about this place.  You've never been to Tampa Bay or been in this area or this course or played this course before this week?
HENRIK STENSON:  Nope (laughter).

Q.  What do you think of Tampa Bay so far?
HENRIK STENSON:  I've been in Orlando partly at least since 2007 and this is my first time to Tampa.  This is as far west as I made it before with the kids a couple of times so it's a bit like playing golf when it's not in relation to competition.
There's lot of places that I haven't been that might just be around the corner.  I'm sure we have some great courses within an hour or two but I'm not going to go on a golfing holiday (laughter).
Yeah, it's just the way it's been.  I've never made -- some of my friends have gone to ice hockey and there's lot of things that could have brought me over this side other than the golf tournament, of course, but scheduling, it's hard but kind of communicate why you leave certain tournaments off and so on and you can't play every week and especially not for myself and the guys in my position who play a lot in Europe and in the Middle East and then in the other part of the year, China, Dubai, Turkey on the back end of the year, South Africa, what else?
It's a lot of traveling and you got to pace yourself.  You can't go non-stop all the time.  Quality is still going to be more important than quantity.

Q.  Drug testing got brought up today.  I'm curious how many times do you think on average you're tested in a year?  Does it seem random to you?  Do you get tested at the same venues or is it more kind of haphazard?
HENRIK STENSON:  I would say probably been tested -- how many years have we done it now, about four, five?

Q.  Since '08.
HENRIK STENSON:  Seven years.  Something like that.  I'd say probably an average about three times I think.  I've been tested more over here than I have been in Europe, I think.  I'm pretty positive about that even though it's been negative tests (laughter).
Took awhile, Doug, didn't it?  Tends to -- during this time of the year, I've been tested at Honda, Match Play, Doral last week I had to pee in a cup there.
So -- yeah, you know which cup.  So it's always something in the early part of the year.  I've been tested at Akron.  Can't remember.  Yeah, early in the spring it seems to be quite a lot.
I think the easiest thing would almost to do everyone early, middle and late and then you can have a couple random every now and then.  Get everyone on a few occasions.  I don't know how it works, who gets tested and how often and so on.

Q.  Does it feel random to you?
HENRIK STENSON:  Both yes and no.

Q.  Thanks for the clarity.
If you were running the program, would you be more inclined to test you after winning Deutsche Bank or the following week?
HENRIK STENSON:  At the Olympics don't they always test the medalists?  I wouldn't be against that, you know.  You can always test anyone that does any good.
Again, it depends on what you're looking for and I mean there's rules for everything that's on those lists but, again, I've said that before.  Long and straight.  Viagra might be the only one that's going to get you anywhere (laughter).  I don't know.  What else?  I don't know what else you take for performance enhancement in golf.  I don't know.
We kind of go on to the -- we thought because we're an Olympic sport we would fall under those rules and golf tournament to obey those regulations and be tested and so on.  I think it's good.  I don't spend too much time thinking about it.

Q.  When is the last ice hockey game you went to, just to change the subject?
HENRIK STENSON:  Are we going south with this?  Ice hockey game.  It's been awhile.  I think I went to San Jose game when we played over there.  That's a good three, four years ago.  Haven't been to a game since.  Yeah, I must have.  Anyway, I don't know.

Q.You still understand it though, right?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  Whoever kick the ball first gets the points (laughter).

Q.  Coming from a difficult golf course last week to this week --
HENRIK STENSON:  To another difficult golf course.

Q.  -- do you change your game plan at all because of the style of play is so much different?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  It's a bit of a relief.  It's not as much water around the greens and you don't have to be as -- I mean Doral with those crosswinds and you just know if you wing it a little bit, you let one go in the wind it's going to go swimming.
It a little bit easier in that sense.  But then again you got to keep the ball in the right place here because you can get some slick putts and if you miss it on the wrong side, it's going to be tough.
But there's definitely little bit more leeway.  You can stand on an approach shot with a 5-iron, I want to hit it here but if it doesn't quite work out it's fine if the wind just takes it a bit more in that spot to the left of the green there I got a fairly easy chip.
Blue Monster doesn't quite give you that much.  Sometimes you're wondering even if there's a right place to hit the ball.  It's definitely a little bit easier.
It will be interesting to see if any of my playing partners throughout the week got different strategies compared to the one my caddy and I came up with because I think I'm quite defensive off the tee just get it in play and take it from the second shot.
So, I don't know if there's some guys go aggressive, try to bleed it into the doglegs and stuff around here.
MARK STEVENS:  Thank you for your time.  Always a pleasure.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  It was fun, wasn't it?

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