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September 24, 2015

Henrik Stenson

Atlanta, Georgia

HENRIK STENSON: That was the main purpose, to make someone blink.


THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Henrik Stenson to the interview room. First round 7-under 63. So off to a great start. Just take us through your day briefly.

HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly and I surely did. Some great shots and great putts on the first three. Great up-and-down on 4 after a missed wedge into the bunker there. That kept the momentum going.

Drained a nice one on 6.

Another good save on 8.

And pretty spotless 3 on 9. That set the front nine 29.

So, yeah, very pleased with that. And kept it going on the early part of the back nine. Hit some great shots. Made a few birdies.

Coming in, I didn't quite hit it as good for the last four or five holes, but all in all a very good day both ball striking and short game and putting. So, very pleased with the start and couldn't have asked for anything more, really.


Q. (No Microphone.)
HENRIK STENSON: On 9 it was a 4-wood, so it set up great numbers. I had a good 3-wood off the tee, middle of the fairway and then -- oh, in yards -- yeah, I had like 242 meters to the front and slight bit of tail wind, if anything. So I just aimed for the left side of that chimney on the clubhouse and that's pretty much exactly where she landed, a pace short of the green and rolled up pin high. And, yeah, it was a perfect putt with a good five foot of break on it. And I don't know what it was, 25 feet, something like that, and went straight in the middle with perfect pace.

So yeah, I can't really play the front nine any better and very similar to what I did in 2013 when I started with a good score and shot 5-under on the front. So, hopefully the rest of the week can be as successful as it was then.

Q. The dominant theme this week and for several weeks now has been the young guys and the new wave here.
HENRIK STENSON: It feels good to be part of that wave.


Q. Is there some satisfaction in saying at the decrepit age of 39 you can still do this?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I guess we're not, not older than what we feel, right. So I don't feel a day over 38. So it's all good. But, yeah, of course I want to try and stay competitive as long as I can and I'm working hard to make sure that happens. So, yeah, it gives satisfaction when you're on top of the leaderboard in any tournament and yeah it's been a lot of Jason and Jordan and Rickie and Rory, so of course it's good to get a good start and hopefully we can progress from here on this week.

Q. There's a certain youthfulness still to your game and what's been the secret to maintaining that?
HENRIK STENSON: For me it's been key looking after myself physically. I got a few little niggles, you know, that that's -- when you reach my age and you hit however many millions of golf balls I've done over the years, the body definitely feels it. But I'm trying to stay in good shape and I've had great help from my trainer and physio, Cornell, we worked together for three years now and I would say I'm in as good shape as I've ever been. So that certainly helps.

And again, this time of the year now it feels pretty fresh, because I played a little bit less throughout the summer and I feel ready to go.

Q. Would you talk about, on TV they showed a graphic, it showed that you had only hit one driver in the first round in 2013 and none today. Talk about your strategy to attack East Lake and how it's working?
HENRIK STENSON: As I said earlier in the week, the biggest threat to a player is the rough around here, both if you miss the fairways and if you do, you a lot of times, I don't know what the stats are, but if you miss the fairway, I would say it's a very high percentage you're going to miss the green from there on as well.

So, hitting fairways is definitely crucial and I feel like I gave myself the best chances with 3-wood and 4-wood on a lot of these holes. And you definitely would rather take a 6-iron off the fairway than an 8-iron out of this rough.

So fairways are key and I hit a good percentage in 13 I'm sure and it was a good day off the tee today as well. So I'm going to keep on just trying to drill it down the middle, hopefully as many times as I can and that sets up the chance for aggressiveness on the second shot. And hit a lot of good iron shots today, as I did in 2013. And the putter was behaving good. So, then you're going to have the chance to shoot a good score?

Q. Walking to 13, did you think 59 at all?
HENRIK STENSON: Not really. It's all about just keep on going and if I, if I would have been able to make an eagle on 13, then definitely I would have had a chance -- sorry, on 15 -- to try and push for another birdie coming in. But not really.

I mean at that stage, it was just trying to get up and hit the fairways, give yourself chances, because they're tricky holes. If you're going to do a good score, you're not going to pick it up in the last five or six holes here. Except 15 which is normally a very good birdie chance. The other ones, they aren't particularly birdie holes. There was still some tricky pins out there today I would say for a Thursday.

Q. Was your second shot on 15 your most disappointing one today?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think I actually would have reached quite easily. I felt like I had to give it absolutely everything with a 3-iron and I put a bit of sling on it, and it just -- when you are standing down there, you don't really see where the mouth of the green is, even though you have a rough idea. And because the pin was short right, you don't really want to go in the right-hand bunkers even though it's doable.

And I was playing for the left side to try and just get it up around the edge of the green. And it was not so much that shot, it was more I would have hoped for a better chance off, from there really. The bunker shot came out a bit fiery and just released up, and I hit a good putt to stop probably about an inch or so short on line.

So, yeah, it's always disappointing to make a five, but not so much on the second shot.

Q. How aware are you of the different scenarios to win the FedExCup this week without winning the tournament?
HENRIK STENSON: I had a look before we came here and I saw there's a decent chance still if I'm solo second. Other than that I think it's -- other than that, I'll leave that to someone else to figure that out. A computer or something, because and again, I'm here to try and give myself a chance to win this golf tournament and I know if I do that, then I will win the FedExCup as well. And that's what is great about being in the top-5 and makes it very clear what can happen. And if you get the outcome you want, and I just know that if I'm solo second and I think Jason needs to be fourth or worse or something, and then wasn't someone in outside top nine or 10, they need to win it.

So there's still some variables in there. It could just be handy if you're coming down on Sunday the last couple of holes and you're a few behind the leader, knowing, knowing what the scenarios are, if, if someone leading that's back in the pack and Jason wouldn't be up there, then at least you know kind of what you have to play for.

So, it's good to have a rough idea. Other than that, focus on my game and keep on playing. That's kind of what's going to take care of business more that be trying to figure out the different scenarios.

Q. I know you said you were in a similar position going into Dubai the year you won here where you could have won the Race to Dubai without having won on that tour. Does it matter to you one way or the other? I know we're going to sit and talk about it, but do you care?
HENRIK STENSON: I'll be happy on Sunday, if I were to finish second and win the FedExCup I'm pretty sure I'll be smiling on Sunday. I'll be smiling more if I got two trophies than one, but I'll deal with one as well.

But at this point, I'm here to try and win this TOUR Championship for the second time and it would be great to pull that off. Still a long ways to go. We're only one round down and as we know, a lot of things can happen in 54 holes.

So, let's wait and see and we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I'll be smiling either way, I think, if I'm in the top two and it would work out one way or the other.

Q. Was there ever a point in the last hour where you felt any kind of momentum slip in the round?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I mean, that tends to happen when we get a slight drizzle. I had the same on Saturday two years ago. Fighting a little bit.

But again, as I said, it's not the easiest hole coming in either, 16, 17, 18, you take even par for the week on those ones and try to make your birdies on other holes.

So, I'm not going to sit around and think too much about that bogey on 17, really.

And yeah, I didn't strike it quite as good as I did for the first 12 or 13 holes, for the last couple, but it worked.

Q. Also, you had the 4-wood and what is the gap between your 3-wood and your next --
HENRIK STENSON: The 3-wood's a strong 3-wood, so it's about 12 and a half degrees. And the 4-wood is 17 degrees. I've had that one in for maybe three years. That was -- it was the similar one that cracked here, you remember? In the warm-up the first day in 2013. It cracked on the driving range. So, I had to leave that one out. I played the first round in 2013 with 13 clubs.

Q. I remember that now. Still won 10 million dollars. And then where do you go from your 4-wood --
HENRIK STENSON: Imagine with what I would have done with 14 clubs.


Q. They don't give you more money.

Q. When you see Jason Day 20-under wins the PGA, 22-under wins the Barclays, 20-under, I think, won last week, does that change anything in your mind about what you have to go out there and shoot?
HENRIK STENSON: No, I think that I know this golf course is normally not giving 20-under that easily, so it's a harder course to shoot 20-under for sure. We have seen the winning score, if you are just into double figures you're normally doing pretty well here. Might be different this year, you never know.

But I'm just trying to keep to my plan and give myself as many chances. I would love to get to 20-under because I'm fairly sure that will get the job done. So, with heading in that direction, hopefully, and just have to see how the week plays out. We got potentially weather coming tomorrow, so that can make it tougher again. That Bermuda rough is tricky to play out normally, I don't think it's any nicer when it's soaking wet.

Q. What's tougher for you, getting to East Lake or playing at East Lake?
HENRIK STENSON: Getting to East Lake or playing? I don't know. We'll call it a draw then.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, Henrik.


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