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March 21, 2015

Henrik Stenson


DOUG MILNE:  Okay.  Henrik Stenson, thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a successful 6-under, 66 in Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Quite the finish for you there in Round 3.  With that, I'll turn it over to you for some comments heading into the final round.
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah.  Not a great day out there.  I managed to sneak a couple of birdies in on the front-9 which I haven't really done earlier in the week.  I think I was level par for both rounds.  Yesterday put some fire back on the back-9, shot 6-under.  Today I did pretty much the same.
Went 4-under in the last four holes and finished with five 3s.  That normally moves you in the right direction on the leaderboard.  Did that as well for me today.  Pleased with the finish and puts me in a nice position going into Sunday.
DOUG MILNE:  We'll take questions.

Q.  Yesterday you talked about the kick in the butt after a slow start.  Is that kind of how you deal now it when things aren't quite going yourself?
HENRIK STENSON:  Kicking myself in the butt all the time.

Q.  Your words, not mine.
HENRIK STENSON:  Well, I didn't really -- like I had to today, I was going about my business, didn't get off to a fast start but it was still okay, kept it in play and took my chance when I got it on 6, missed a good chance on 7 and then hit a nice shot into 9 and birdied that one.
It was just -- you know, I could have been a shot better or so on the front-9.  I was trying to play the course according to my game plan and keep my focus and my patience and everything and got off to a good finish again.
Today was, all in all, a better played round than yesterday even though the result was the same but I felt like I hit better shots and striking has been good this week which has been a little off the previous two weeks.
The first two rounds at Doral was good but not been great.  Finished off with a strong Sunday in Tampa and then this has been the best it's been combined for any out of these three weeks I played.
So, apparently those phone lessons with Pete works on Wednesday nights.

Q.  You've got a pretty impressive track record here the last few years.  Anything you attribute that to?
HENRIK STENSON:  It's a course where you can't get away with playing only decent, you got to play pretty well around here.  Quite a lot of shots, especially towards the end when you got to commit and hit some good shots coming in and ball striking is normally one of my strong parts.
Maybe two years ago or three years ago there when I think I finished 8th I put that down to magician around the greens.  My pitching was phenomenal and I putted nicely.  I wasn't playing that great but I still managed to squeeze a good finish out of it when I needed to have a chance to get in Augusta last on that year and last year was pretty solid.  I didn't putt well and then this year I've been playing and putting well.
I think it's a pretty tough course.  It's been a bit easier this year due to the softness of the greens and lack of wind but it's still quite a few shots that can come up and bite you if you don't hit good -- in a few the holes if you don't hit good shots at the right time.  They can definitely bite back.

Q.  Two different questions.  First of all, how many drivers are you hitting a round?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think I only hit one today.  I think I only hit 12.  Yeah, it's not too many drivers.  I'd say possibly hit two, three but it depends on the wind.  A few of the holes kind of what lines you want to take.  It's not a course where I hit a lot of drivers, definitely not.

Q.  What are the other holes you're hitting driver on?
HENRIK STENSON:  3 if it's downwind and want to take it over the corner.  You need to be more wind than we have.  6 is kind of the same, depends on how you see it.  I feel like on 6 if -- like today I hit a 3-wood straight out towards that right hand bunker, that leaves me good 4-wood yardage.  If I hit a drive and kind of leave it in between or a 2-iron, it's almost easy to have a full wood than to have a 2-iron in the green.
There's a few holes can make a change but 16 is kind of played a little shorter as well.  I feel like if I hit a good 3-wood I don't really take that back or front, what shall I say, left hand bunker in the doing it.  320 off the tee.  I don't take that into play with the wood.  But I would say those are the holes that I potentially see driver.  Maybe 4 if it's into the wind as well.

Q.  Second of all, how would you describe your energy level or outlook on the start of this season compared to last season where you were coming off a really spectacular but exhausting season the year before?
HENRIK STENSON:  Early on in the year, last year I was pretty drained and I was battling fatigue, really, and when you're in that cycle it's because you feel like you want to practice and workout and you don't have the energy to do it.
This year I've had a bit more time off.  I had a full month at home here in Florida before I started at Doral.  Got in good gym work done and practice.  Definitely a whole lot more energized and ready to head into the busiest part of the season from March all the way till FedEx is over in September.
You got to be pretty fresh and ready when it starts otherwise you're playing catch up too much.

Q.  What grade would you give yourself last two weeks?
HENRIK STENSON:  Grade?  Overall game, Tampa, maybe. 7.  This week, 8, 8 1/2.

Q.  That's how they keep score in Sweden.  In that respect, if you're not getting everything out of your game how do you feel about your finishes for two weeks and what does that say about you going forward?
HENRIK STENSON:  I think the golf courses that we played all these three weeks sets up nicely for my game.  I felt like in Tampa I kind of missed it in the right spots and played a good strategic week especially that it was the first time at that venue for me.
So, yeah, I kind of got a lot out of my game in Tampa.  Last day I was playing nicely and got on a charge in the back-9.  This week I definitely played the best out of those three weeks.
I managed my game well.  My short game has been sharp and my putting in particular has been really good.  Even though I feel like I can get a little bit more confidence and little bit more out of my ball striking, it's still been very good this week but I'm a bit of a perfectionist so the day you hear 10 out of my mouth, I don't know if that's ever going to happen.

Q.  To follow-up on that, if you play the way you did today at Augusta, would you be pleased?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I'd say-so if I could play the kind of round I played today for four days at Augusta I definitely be pleased and I would hope that I'll be up there, be one of the strong contenders.
But, again, I'm trying -- Augusta is definitely in the back of my mind.  I got a few things I'm kind of working on towards Augusta but still we're here now and playing the final round tomorrow and I'm going to try my hardest to do a good job tomorrow and try and close -- close out this golf tournament to win here.  That would be a really nice achievement and a nice week for me since I'm Orlando resident.
I even took -- when they asked me on Thursday if I wanted to be announcer for Florida or Sweden, of course I took Orlando support.  I got to get whatever support I can get, right (laughter).
It's home tournament and it's a nice week for me staying at home, sleeping at home and I would, of course, like to win here today but Golf God doesn't know what's happened the last three days.  Hopefully I tell it good.  That would be a good closing.

Q.  Add on to what you said earlier about Bay Hill and what you said before about Orlando and you've played this tournament now several times and over the years, how special is this tournament to you and just even playing at Arnold Palmer's and seeing him out there?
HENRIK STENSON:  He's one of the greats of this golf game and, of course, it would be that extra icing on the cake to win his event here in Orlando since I live here.  Yeah, I'm going to try my hardest.  Don't worry about that.  It's still 18 to go.
I got a couple of shots ahead but it's pretty bunched up leaderboard, I believe, lot of guys on 12, 13-under.  If they get hot tomorrow and play well they can definitely catch me pretty quickly.  So, I got to go out there and play solid round and that's all I can try and do and see where that puts us.

Q.  When did you move to Orlando and which area of town do you live in?
HENRIK STENSON:  Lake Nona past the airport there.  Very convenient to have the airport around the corner and especially then we can, of course, have a home game here.  Drive to quite a few of the events in Florida.

Q.  When did you move?
HENRIK STENSON:  I've had a home here since '07 but it's been permanent base because I was in Dubai back in the day and then it's been like two, three years now it's been permanent.

Q.  Back to the question just to follow-up, given the volatility of this golf course that people can shoot low numbers, is any lead safe with 18 holes left here?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I guess if you get into the double figures would feel pretty comfortable but no, you can't -- I mean I don't think I should change anything.  I've kept to my game plan for the first three days and it's worked out fine so far so I'm not really going to looking to make any changes.
It's also a question when you hit last couple of holes or the back tomorrow if you're behind then you might feel like you want to push a little bit harder, otherwise, I imagine I'll just keep going about my things and trying to leave other guys behind, of course, but lot of things can happen in 18 holes.  We've seen that.

Q.  Do you know anything about Morgan Hoffmann?
HENRIK STENSON:  No.  No, I don't.  I've seen him around a little bit.  We haven't played together.  It would be a first tomorrow I believe.

Q.  He cooks his own lunch the night before.  Do you think he'll be willing to share?
HENRIK STENSON:  I don't want to put all that extra work in there for him.  I'll bring my own sandwich.  He doesn't need to worry about me.

Q.  I'm curious what you think of the 16th hole when you've got to par that late in the game?  You reached 3-wood, 6-iron, right.?  It's a 200-yard shot with the ball in the fairway?
HENRIK STENSON:  It's a chance where you can make up a lot and still there will be bogies on that hole and possibly even double bogies.  It's a risk and reward and if you missed the tee shot in the bunker or something you still go for it.
Everyone knows the dangers and even from the position I was in on the right side of the fairway with a 6-iron, if I get a bit too greedy you just need to tweak it a bit left and wind off the right and you're swimming.  You might end up making 6.
I like it.  It sets up for a bit of drama and then you got two tough closing holes, 17 and 18.  It's not always the easiest to make par on those two when you have to.

Q.  What's the easiest par 5 you played all year?
HENRIK STENSON:  Any other easy questions?  Easiest par 5 all year.  In terms of scoring average or which one I think?  I'm kind of --

Q.  How about making bogies?
HENRIK STENSON:  I don't make bogies on par-5s (laughter).  I did on 6 yesterday.  We'll just push that question forward and we'll have a chat about that some other day when I have more energy to think about all the other courses.

Q.  Two parter for you here.  What's your track record with the 54 hole lead?
HENRIK STENSON:  I thought that was your job not mine to keep track of that (laughter).
DOUG MILNE:  He's one and one.

Q.  Do you play well with the lead?
HENRIK STENSON:  I'd say so.  I think I've done pretty well.  If you bring a few other tournaments in, talking only PGA TOUR yeah, then probably right on that one but I got a few wins elsewhere in the world where I was leading as well.  I'd say it's a decent track record from the front position.

Q.  How do you explain the fact that the last 8 54 hole leaders have not been able to close the deal?
HENRIK STENSON:  They haven't played well enough.  I'm not just a pretty face (laughter).
Depends a lot on how it kind of sets up.  If you have a really packed leaderboard behind it's going to make for lot of guys trying to attack.  If you got a five shot lead and there's only one guy chasing you then you're going to feel a lot worse if you don't pull it off.  8 for 8, 1,000.  All right.
I'll try and make that different tomorrow then but can't give any guarantees.  I'll certainly try and I think it just shows it's a tighter game these days.  More guys who can win.
On a Sunday more of the players who go out harder trying to attack especially if fear they're a few shots behind, if I don't do it, someone else is going to do it.  They might put a number in the mind and go out and try and chase that.
And, again, that's why I said you can't really sit back if you got a 1, 2 shot lead.  You got to play a solid round.  Of course, if I put 3, 4, 5-under par on the board tomorrow for my round it's going to be a whole lot harder for the guys to catch me than if I go out and shoot level.
Again, I don't know how I can explain that.

Q.  Henrik, Rory said the other day that if you grow up in Europe Seve is sort of the person that you look at as bringing golf to the masses maybe more than Arnold the way Americans do here.
Since you've moved to Orlando and started playing in this tournament, have you gained a deeper appreciation for what Arnold stands for, what he is, what he's done?
HENRIK STENSON:  Yeah, I think so.  Definitely I've been seeing that a bit more since I came over and played more in the U.S.  So, yeah, I mean we owe a lot to him and he's been great for the game and he's great to be playing his tournament and to get to see him.

Q.  Henrik, you aren't just a pretty face, are you?  I know you can't play defense but it must give you a little more pause this week on Sunday knowing that everybody is coming out here shooting a low number or at least a lot of people are and a two shot lead for tomorrow is comparatively not that long -- large of a lead compared to any other golf course or any other tournament this year so far.
What do you think about that and do you really feel like you have to shoot 5, 6-under tomorrow to win?
HENRIK STENSON:  Not necessarily.  Sometimes the air is a little thinner on Sunday afternoon in the last couple of groups.  I definitely expect a few other guys to put a good score in and make a charge but, again, I'm going to try to play my game the way I played it for the first three days.
If I need to make any adjustments on the last three, four holes in whichever direction I'll look at that and make that decision then.  But yeah, of course, couple of shots lead on the really, really tough golf course might be a little bit easy if you can defend against par a little bit easier but, again, I'm going to play it the same way and I expect to make a few birdies if I want to win this tomorrow.

Q.  Henrik, of course, your a Players Champion.  Came in 6 for 6, no missed cuts.  Is there something about Florida courses that give you a good feeling?
HENRIK STENSON:  I like sunshine.

Q.  That's always good.
HENRIK STENSON:  You can't miss the cut at Doral, can you?  No, that's one, too.  It's a good -- I like this time of the year because I live in Florida, I can stay at home, I can drive to a lot of tournaments.  It's good golf courses and the weather is nice and feel like you just fresh and ready to go for a new season.
So, yeah, I'm just pleased to be at home and playing golf over here and looking forward to all the golf we got ahead as well and just early in the year and working on my game.  I've gotten some good finishes already.  I'm pretty pleased with the way things are going.
DOUG MILNE:  Okay.  Thanks for your time.

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